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Xhis Volume is for 



from the 
Letters and Papers of William JET. Herndon 


This Portrait Is Reproduced from a Brady Photograph (1864) in the 
War Department Collection; Courtesy of the Signal Corps, U. S. Army 




William H. Herndon 









lawyer, abolitionist, and patriot, whose one object in life was to reveal 

Lincoln to the American people as he knew him, from the slave market 

in New Orleans to Gettysburg and from Clary Grove 

to the second inaugural. 





(From the inscription on Herndon's tombstone) 


To say that our people owe a great debt to Mr. Hertz for his patient 
and untiring study of everything which relates to the life and work 
of Abraham Lincoln is only to state the obvious. The material here 
produced from the Herndon letters is rich indeed. These records are 
intimate, informal, and most revealing. 

The curious combination of simplicity and richness which consti- 
tuted Abraham Lincoln's character gets new evidence for its fuller 
understanding from what is here written. One would think that to say 
anything new about Lincoln had long since become impossible, but it 
certainly is practicable, as Mr. Hertz has shown, to discover and to 
interpret new material concerning one of the best-known personali- 
ties in modern public life. 





I, JANUARY 1866 NOVEMBER 1868 29 

H. FEBRUARY 1869 JANUARY 1874 57 

HI. OCTOBER 1881 MARCH 1887 84} 

IV. APRIL 1887 OCTOBER 1887 183 

V. OCTOBER 1887 FEBRUARY 1891 10 






INDEX 455 


Abraham Lincoln (1864) Frontispiece 

William H. Herndon 52 

Herndon's Correspondents : Arnold, Hart 53 

Facsimile of a Letter to Lamon facing page 60 

Abraham Lincoln (1858) 82 

Herndon's Correspondents : Whitney, Bartlett, Weik, 

Lamon 83 

Lincoln's Law Partners and Early Friends : Stuart, Logan, 

Speed, Matheny 210 

Political Advisers of Lincoln: Swett, White, Davis, Judd 211 

Stephen A. Douglas 242 

Lincoln's Notebooks 243 

Political Cartoons by L. H. Stephens 274 

Political Cartoons by L. H. Stephens 275 

John Hanks 346 

Dennis Hanks 346 

Mary Todd Lincoln 347 

Abraham Lincoln (1865) 362 

Facsimile of a Page of "Big Me 55 363 



The Original Herndon Letters 

FOR a thousand years and more it was customary in the city of 
Rome for builders of important structures to take their build- 
ing materials from the Colosseum without any interference on the 
part of the city authorities. Until the Colosseum was finally made safe 
by law from further destruction, practically every important new 
building in Rome contained part of it. Similarly the Lincoln docu- 
ments gathered and prepared by William H. Herndon in the sixties 
of the last century have been used for seventy years as the foundation 
stones of later biographies. Every biographer from that day to this 
has either consulted Herndon in person or relied on letters or writings 
left by him. 

The first biographers all saw or consulted Herndon before they 
did any of Lincoln's other associates. William Dean Howells* for his 
campaign biography of 1860 and 1864}, referred to Herndon for facts 
on Lincoln's life in Springfield. Holland rushed to consult Herndon 
after the President's assassination in order to prepare the first Life 
of Lincoln. Arnold in order to write his book haggled with Herndon 
over the purchase of the latter* s papers, though in that book he does 
not mention Herndon in his preface or otherwise acknowledge his 
indebtedness. Lamon purchased copies of Herndon's papers and 
turned them over to Chauncey F. Black, who was thus enabled to write 
"their" book ; while he was writing the book, Black wrote as many as 
seventy-five letters to Herndon, and Herndon always helped. Nicolay 
and Hay both borrowed from Herndon, but made no mention of him, 
perhaps because they feared the displeasure of Robert T. Lincoln, 
whose private papers were the most important source of material for 
their voluminous work. Ida M. Tarbell quoted Herndon's conclusions 
she could not help doing so, honest and painstaking biographer that 
she is. As for Jesse W. Weik, all he ever did was to quote Herndon ; 
the voice was the voice of Weik, but the facts were the facts of 
Herndon. When Weik finally wrote his own book, it was based on what 

he had found in the Herndon treasure trove, which he had purchased 



or rather inherited from the feeble and moribund Herndon. Beveridge 
was completely controlled by the notes gathered by Herndon and 
owned by Weik, and the first volume of his book (in which there are 
752 references to Herndon documents) is based almost entirely on 
what he found in these manuscripts. Sandburg in his two-volume bi- 
ography refers to Herndon ninety-four times. Charnwood, while he 
did not consult Herndon, used a digest of all the consultations of 

Raymond, Barrett, Leland, Rothschild, Stoddard, Hapgood, all 
knew and quoted Herndon. Barton pleaded with Weik to be permitted 
to see Herndon's original papers, but failed to get them. The good- 
natured and accommodating Herndon was dead and Weik was not 
so accommodating. Charles H. Hart wrote to Herndon, and gathered 
a fine series of letters covering a great many phases of Lincoln's life, 
but he never published them. Many of Herndon's letters appeared in 
newspapers in response to the requests for information by various 
persons. For twenty-five years, to the very last day of his life, Herndon 
unselfishly gave himself, his strength, his limited substance, and prac- 
tically all his time, first to the writing out of all he knew and all he 
remembered of his famous partner, and then to the gathering of the 
material which was to be the foundation of every biography of Abra- 
ham Lincoln thereafter. 

Immediately after the assassination of Lincoln, the great effusion 
of sorrow at his untimely and tragic death, the belated realization of 
the martyred President's supreme service to the nation, provided an 
atmosphere in which all the enormous quantity of living material on 
his life and character then available could easily have been brought 
together. Yet nothing was done, either by Congress or by Lincoln's 
influential and literary friends, to gather such valuable but perishable 
biographical contributions. As a result, a definitive Life of Lincoln is 
still a dream unfulfilled, and a natural hesitation in revealing certain 
aspects of Lincoln's life has hardened into a policy of secrecy. Aside 
from a few superficial books written for special purposes, nothing of 
biographical importance took place until thirty years had passed, 
when Nicolay and Hay prepared their series of articles for the Century 
Magazine. And in that time it had become all but impossible to permit 
the discussion of some of the information supplied by Lincoln's con- 


There was one man in Springfield, however, who, when he returned 
from Lincoln's funeral, determined to dedicate the rest of his life to 
the task of gathering all the material that would be necessary for the 
definitive biography of his lifelong friend, law partner, and political 
leader. William H. Herndon knew that with the passage of time the 
recollections of persons who had known Lincoln would acquire a su- 
perlative value. He began by setting down everything he himself knew 
about Lincoln from a daily contact of twenty years ; then he talked to 
others in Springfield who had known Lincoln, thus supplementing and 
verifying his own recollections of Lincoln the husband, the father, the 
lawyer traveling over the Eighth Circuit and pleading in the higher 
courts, the spinner of yarns, the member of the State Legislature and 
of Congress, the political rival of Douglas, the candidate for the 
Presidency of the United States of Lincoln up to February 12, 1861, 
when he left Springfield for the last time. Referring to the sign **Lin- 
coln and Herndon," Lincoln had then said, with a significant lowering 
of his voice : "Let it hang there undisturbed. Give our clients to under- 
stand that the election of a President makes no difference in the firm. 
If I live, Fm coming back some time, and then we'll go right on prac- 
ticing as if nothing had happened." He lingered for a moment and 
then passed into the narrow hallway never to return. 

Herndon prepared a list of names of people outside Springfield who 
might from personal acquaintance have known any facts about Lin- 
coln's life from the day of his birth until the day of his death that 
might have escaped his own memory and researches. He visited Lin- 
coln's relatives in Kentucky, Indiana, and Illinois and obtained from 
them statements which he reduced to writing. He did the same with Lin- 
coln's early neighbors, the tradespeople with whom he had dealt, the 
women he had met, and the girls he had courted. In pursuit of his clues 
Herndon corresponded with men and women all over the Union, track- 
ing some of them down to the most distant points, and eliciting from 
former associates and friends testimony of so intimate a quality that 
the real Lincoln is made to live in their letters. Herndon sent them a 
series of precise questions, and persisted with additional letters until 
all his questions had been answered. 

Turning next to Lincoln's professional life Herndon proceeded to 
interview, and to prepare the records and recollections of, the judges 
before whom Lincoln had practiced. These recollections were either 


written by the judges themselves or by Herndon at their dictation. He 
then hunted up the lawyers with whom Lincoln had practiced at the 
bar scores of them and subjected them to the same procedure. 
There are reminiscences of lawyers who rode the circuit with Lincoln, 
who heard from his own lips the story of his life and listened to his 
tales before the fires of wayside taverns. Herndon looked up the lead- 
ing politicians with whom Lincoln had worked and whom he had met, 
and no other public man had known so many politicians, North and 
South, as had Lincoln. He consulted the Long* Nine and the other 
members of the Legislature with whom Lincoln had served during his 
five terms. He gathered also the statements of Lincoln's political op- 
ponents. He was not looking for eulogy he was looking for facts. 

Until 1888 Herndon gave practically all his time to this work of 
assiduous research; that year he finally made up his mind that a 
Life of Lincoln must be written then if he was ever to write one at all. 
His critics have been quick to emphasize the fact that he began to write 
his biography nearly twenty-three years after Lincoln's death. That 
he lectured on Lincoln in the years 1866-1870, composed newspaper 
articles, and wrote hundreds of letters in answer to the inquiries of all 
the other biographers should certainly annul whatever impugning 
of Herndon's motives is intended by this charge of undue delay. That 
Herndon's letters to interested persons are all consistent with each 
other, and tell the same facts, over a period of twenty-three years, 
should certainly remove the doubt that this lapse of time casts upon 
the reliability of his memoirs. Nicolay and Hay took longer to write 
their book, and they were affluent, and did not face the struggle for 
existence or make the sacrifices Herndon made ; but to them it was 
accounted a virtue that they did not rush immediately into print but 
waited long enough to gain the proper perspective, part of which in- 
deed they gained from Herndon's lectures and letters and from the 
facts Herndon had supplied for Ward Lamon's book. Herndon's con- 
clusions were based upon a vast amount of evidence painstakingly 
collected and carefully studied for a score of years ; he had the right 
to feel that he was now fitted to write the biography of his friend. 

On the period of Lincoln's life before he left for Washington in 1861 
Herndon stands alone as a biographical authority. It is conceded by 
almost all, no matter how grudgingly by soine, that without Hern- 
don's records no complete life of Lincoln is possible. Yet there has 


been a curious unwillingness to allow to Herndon the credit for what 
he has done, almost a conspiracy to keep from historians such of 
Herndon's researches as would seem to be necessary for a truthful and 
complete history of Abraham Lincoln. Herndon himself cared for no 
acknowledgment ; he freely gave of himself, his time, and his substance 
to whoever expressed an interest in Lincoln's real life ; and the sole 
purpose of his own life was to tell the true story of Lincoln's. 

If we examine every Lincoln biography of importance down to 
Beveridge's incomplete effort, we find no proper credit given to Hern- 
don for what he did. Even Beveridge, while he praises Herndon's zeal 
and outstanding achievement in unmeasured terms, does not trouble 
to quote Herndon's conclusions ; he simply cites such excerpts from 
Herndon's statements as suit his purposes. 

In the early seventies Ward H. Lamon decided to write a Life of 
his friend and chief. Aside from Herndon, Lincoln had no closer or 
more loyal friend and admirer than Lamon, his constant confidant, 
first as a partner on the circuit and then during Lincoln's entire stay 
in Washington. Lamon gathered the facts, wrote to many people who 
had known Lincoln in Washington, obtained their opinions in the form 
of letters, and then turned all these over to Chauncey F. Black, his 
literary collaborator. Black was a more congenial associate to Lamon 
than Weik was to be to Herndon, and he sought to save as much 
of Herndon's data as possible. Lamon therefore persuaded Herndon 
to sell him some of his collected materials. 

"Early in 1869," says Lamon, "Mr. Herndon placed at my disposal 
his remarkable collection of materials the richest, rarest, and fullest 
collection it was possible to conceive. Along with them came an offer 
of hearty co-operation, of which I have availed myself extensively, 
that no art of mine would serve to conceal it. Added to my collections, 
these acquisitions have enabled me to do what could not have been 
done before prepare an authentic biography of Mr. Lincoln. 

"Mr. Herndon had been the partner in business and the intimate 
personal associate of Mr. Lincoln for something like a quarter of a 
century ; and Mr. Lincoln had lived familiarly with several members 
of his family long before their individual acquaintance began. New 
Salem, Springfield, the old judicial circuit, the habits and friends of 
Mr. Lincoln, were as well known to Mr. Herndon as to himself. With 
these advantages, and from the numberless facts and hints which had 


dropped from Mr. Lincoln during the confidential intercourse of an 
ordinary lifetime, Mr. Herndon was able to institute a thorough sys- 
tem of inquiry for every noteworthy circumstance and every incident 
of value in Mr. Lincoln's career. 

"The fruits of Mr. Herndon's labors . . . comprise the recollec- 
tions of Mr. Lincoln's nearest friends ; of the surviving members of his 
family and his family-connections ; of the men still living who knew 
him and his parents in Kentucky ; of his school fellows, the whole pop- 
ulation of New Salem ; of his associates and relatives at Springfield ; 
and of lawyers, judges, politicians, and statesmen everywhere, who 
had anything of interest or moment to relate. . . . They were col- 
lected at vast expense of time, labor, involving the employment of 
many agents, long journeys, tedious examinations, and voluminous 

But the Life that Black wrote for Lamon was not what was finally 
printed as Lamon's Life of Lincoln. Judge David Davis and Leonard 
Swett prevailed upon Lamon to bring his manuscript to Chicago, and 
there took place an incident which it is fortunate that we have Horace 
White to confirm : 

"The book was nearly ready for publication and Lamon had sub- 
mitted the page proofs to Swett and Davis for their criticism. They 
found in it a chapter showing or arguing that Lincoln was not the son 
of Thomas Lincoln, his reputed father, but of some other man. In short 
that, although born in wedlock, he was really illegitimate. They (S. 
and D.) were horrified. They got Lamon into a room, locked the door, 
and kept him there nearly a whole afternoon, trying to force him to 
take that chapter out of the book, and they succeeded after great 
difficulty. Swett did not tell me what proofs Lamon advanced to sup- 
port his statement but he said that they were prima facie strong." 

Again according to Horace White, "Swett said that he and Davis 
got Lamon into a private room and labored with him half a day to 
get the matter stricken out; that Lamon was very obstinate, con- 
tended that it was no discredit to Lincoln but rather creditable than 
otherwise, since he had risen so high from such a lowly origin, etc., 
etc. ; but finally they did succeed in getting the worst part of the 
matter stricken out. My recollection is that Swett told me this on the 
very day that he and Davis had the interview with Lamon. At ali 
events it was at very nearly the same time." 


When Herndon finally decided to publish his own book, he retained 
the services of young Jesse W. Weik as a collaborator in the actual 
writing. Herndon, in Springfield, sent Weik, in Greencastle, Indiana, 
a rough draft of each chapter, to be given more elegant literary form. 
Some of these drafts were complete monographs ; some were merely 
contained in series of letters written to Weik from day to day. Most 
of the substance in these letters Herndon had previously already com- 
municated to others. Yet even Weik, whom he had especially picked for 
this work, did not make full use of his letters, compositions, findings, 
and conclusions. Weik, too, reinterpreted Herndon's statements and 
used only such portions of them as he approved of. Aside from the 
short preface written by Herndon, nothing was printed as Herndon 
intended. The preface, short as it is, tells of Herndon's purposes 
many of which were in fact frustrated by the recipients of his letters 
and by his co-worker, Weik. And as if Weik's distortions were not 
sufficient, the editor in the office of Belford, Clarke & Company the 
publishers, soon to be bankrupt, of this unfortunate venture again 
revised Weik's version of what Herndon wrote. 

Herndon complained bitterly of the treatment of his manuscript, 
bxlt his protests were of no avail. Weik never specifically replied to 
Herndon's complaints ; he simply ignored them. The two men met but 
rarely, and Herndon, old, weak, and disappointed, gave up the fight. 
He had received less than $300 from Weik, not only for his work in the 
writing of the book, but also for his entire collection, the amassing 
of which had consumed most of his mature years. After the failure of 
Belford, Clarke & Company, and the financial disappointment of both 
Weik and Herndon, the whole collection of facts was again buried 
until 1922, when Weik, in his old age, resurrected portions of it in a 
book entitled The Real Lincoln, A Portrait. Jesse W. Weik is here at 
last generous to his friend Herndon ; he pays him a much-deserved 
tribute in his opening pages by quoting the estimate of Herndon's 
work by one of Lincoln's closest friends, Henry C. Whitney, of Ur- 
bana, Illinois, who says in a letter to Herndon : 

**You saw Lincoln as he was and know him far better than all other 
living men combined. Armed with such knowledge it follows that you 
know better than others how to delineate him. You have the acuteness 
of vision that we attribute to Lincoln; you acquired much of his 
analytical power by attrition and you thought deeply as he did. He 


had unbounded confidence in your intuitions and your adhesion to 
him. I shall never forget the day January 6, 1859 when a Legisla- 
ture of Illinois met in joint session and elected Stephen A. Douglas, 
instead of himself, to the United States Senate. I went to your office 
and found Lincoln there alone. He appeared to be somewhat dejected 
in fact I never saw a man so depressed. I tried to rally his drooping 
spirits and thus extract all the comfort possible from the situation, 
but with ill success. He was simply steeped in gloom. For a time he 
was silent ; finally he straightened up and thanked me, but presently 
slid back into his chair again, blurting out as he sank down : 'Well, 
whatever happens I expect everyone to desert me now, but Billy 
Herndon.' " 

In his introduction to John Fort Newton's excellent book, Lincoln 
and Herndon, F. B. Sanborn says : 

"Among those originals I found the whole of the five years' corres- 
pondence between Parker and Herndon, the law partner of Abraham 
Lincoln for more than twenty years. I saw the historical and political 
value of this peculiar interchange of opinion and fact, by which Parker 
was brought near the mind of one of his latest friends, who was to 
complete the work of slave-emancipation in which Parker had been 
active for nearly twenty years before his death and was to die as the 
second great martyr in the cause of American emancipation. But it 
was not convenient for me to edit these letters ; nor was the time ripe 
for this, thirty years ago. This Mr, Newton has now done with research 
and discretion, collating, correcting, and combining the mass of ma- 
terial accumulated since Lincoln's death, and contributing his own 
verdict on the characters and events of the crisis. He has added new 
material, bearing on the relations between Lincoln and Herndon, to 
whom earlier writers have by no means done justice; but who in this 
book stands revealed in his actual character, as the most important 
witness and chronicler of his partner's career. He writes from his own 
point of view, and with the advantage that lapse of time gives to the 
seeker after that most elusive chameleon, historical truth. It is a work 
well done, and will stand the test of after years, which unsparingly 
judge the mere eulogy or invective that would pass for biography. 

"In the volume now completed, my early and beloved friend, Theo- 
dore Parker, becomes almost a shadowy figure in the vast drama of 


national regeneration ; since he died, like Moses, within sight of the 
Promised Land that he was never to enter. But his work has been so 
well done, and was so heartily recognized by Herndon, in these en^ 
thusiastic and picturesque letters, that this shadow stands for some- 
thing substantial, which the many volumes of Parker's discourses will 
certify and make good. He appears here as in some sort the inspirer 
of Herndon, and through him of Lincoln the grandest personage of 
our long unfolding drama, and one of the most tragic." 

William H. Herndon, the son of Rebecca (Day) Johnson and 
Archer G. Herndon, was born on December 25, 1818, in Greensburg, 
Kentucky. The family moved to Illinois in 1820 and to Springfield 
in 1825. He was educated in the Preparatory Department of Illinois 
College, where he absorbed its anti-slavery atmosphere. It was there 
that the first seeds were sown which made him an abolitionist. An im- 
passioned public utterance on the lynching of the anti-slavery editor 
Elijah Love joy caused his father to recall the "abolitionist pup," and 
a breach occurred between father and son which remained unhealed. 
After taking some odd jobs, Herndon began to study law and soon 
after his admission to the bar became Lincoln's partner. The partner- 
ship was dissolved by Lincoln's death. Herndon occupied the same 
office for the rest of his life, first in partnership with Charles Zane, one 
of Lincoln's office boys, who later became judge of the United States 
District Court for the Southern District of Illinois. Herndon's last 
partner was Alfred Orendorff. 

On March 26, 1840, Herndon married Mary J. Maxey, by whom he 
had six children ; after her death he married on July 31, 1861, Annie 
Mites, who bore him two children. The second marriage was in part 
a result of his making good on a political promise to the young bride's 
brother, for whom he procured an appointment from Lincoln. 

Herndon did not have the makings of a politician, although he did 
serve one term as Mayor of Springfield and was State Bank Examiner, 
which position came to him through the influence of Lincoln and to 
which he was reappointed by Governor Yates at the request of Lincoln 
just about the time that Lincoln left for Washington. He was also 
candidate for presidential elector in 1856. Before Lincoln's departure 
to Washington, Herndon acted not only as his partner, but as his 
spokesman and his adviser. After 1861, when his partner had achieved 


national fame, he began the gathering of all the important material 
about Lincoln's life which was to become, after Lincoln's assassina- 
tion, the main occupation of his own life. 

As has been truthfully said, it was unwavering and inflexible devo- 
tion to the truth that formed the predominating trait in the char- 
acter of William H. Herndon. In this respect he resembled his illus- 
trious law partner. Both men up to a certain point were very much 
alike, but there was this difference : Lincoln, deeply cautious and re- 
strained, was prone to abstract and thoughtful calculation. Herndon, 
by nature forceful and alert, was quick, impulsive, and often precipi- 
tate. If he detected wrong he proclaimed the fact instantly and every- 
where, and fought at the drop of the hat, and fought incessantly, 
pushing blindly through the smoke of battle until he was either hope- 
lessly overcome or stood exultant on the hilltop of victory. Younger 
than Lincoln, he was more venturesome, and magnificently oblivious of 

Conscious of his limitations, Herndon knew that he was too radical 
and bold to achieve success in politics, and he therefore sank himself 
in the fortunes of his more happily poised partner. In the end posterity 
will accept the verdict of Herndon's friends that, despite his faults, 
he was a noble, broad-minded man, incapable of a mean or selfish act, 
brave and big-hearted, tolerant, forgiving, just, and as true to Lin- 
coln as the "needle to the pole." 

Beveridge encouraged and urged Weik to write his later book as a 
vindication of Herndon : "You are quite right about Herndon. In all 
my investigation, his character shines out clear and stainless. As I said 
of him in my review of your book, he was almost a fanatic in his devo- 
tion to truth. Wherever he states a fact as such, I accept it, unless 
other indisputable and documentary proof shows that his memory was 
a little bit defective." 

Senator Beveridge himself, after writing the Life of Chief Justice 
John Marshall, decided to write a companion book on Abraham Lin- 
coln. Beveridge not only became acquainted with all the Lincoln stu- 
dents and collectors of Illinois, Indiana, and Kentucky, who all as- 
sisted him and gave him access to their collections, but he also had 
the close co-operation and friendship of Weik, who generously turned 
over to him everything that Herndon had collected and written 
(throughout his book Beveridge refers to this as the Weik Collection) ; 


but Beveridge did not possess the attributes that a devoted biographer 
of Abraham Lincoln ought to have. A true Bo swell has one hero only, 
to whom he dedicates his entire life. Beveridge used only so much of 
the Herndon material as he saw fit a shocking liberty to a genuine 
Boswell, such as Beveridge admitted Herndon to be: 

"I do not, at the moment, recall another case in history where im- 
mediately after the death of a great personage, the facts of his per- 
sonal life were collected so carefully, thoroughly, and impartially by 
a lifelong friend and intimate professional associate, as the facts about 
Lincoln were gathered by William H. Herndon. Almost from boyhood 
Herndon had been an idolater of Lincoln ; and for seventeen years the 
two men were partners in the practice of law. So Herndon saw more 
of Lincoln and heard more from Lincoln's lips than any other human 
being, excepting only Lincoln's wife. 

"Almost at once after the assassination, Herndon began to col- 
lect material relating to his hero. He wrote to everybody who ever 
knew Lincoln or his parents everything about Lincoln is covered, 
up to 1861 ; Herndon's industry and persistence in this are astonish- 
ing. ... In his letters he asked questions upon every conceivable 
point. . . . Some questions were not answered clearly, and Herndon 
wrote again and again, until the smallest detail was made plain. Often, 
as in the case of Sarah Bickard, he would have to write several times 
before he got any answer at all. But he stuck to it. Most of those 
who had known Lincoln as boy and young man had scattered far and 
wide over the United States ; no matter, Herndon traced them. Those 
whom he could reach personally, he interviewed, and immediately wrote 
out notes of what they said. I have read in the original manuscript 
these transcripts ; they show on their faces that they were written by 
a trained lawyer, skilled in the taking of depositions and the making 
of notes of statements by witnesses. I have read, too, the original let- 
ters to Herndon in answer to his inquiries, and also Herndon's own 
letters about Lincoln, as well as his entire manuscript on the subject. 
Everywhere it is obvious that Herndon is intent on telling the truth 
himself and on getting the truth from those who could give personal, 
first-hand information. . . . 

"Herndon had gone with Lincoln in his circuit riding ; and he knew 
intimately the lawyers and judges with whom Lincoln spent all his 
professional life outside the office of Lincoln and Herndon, where, of 


course, the junior partner was in closer contact with his senior than 
anybody else possibly could have been. 

"Herndon was forty-seven years of age when Lincoln was murdered. 
For fourteen years after that event, he kept up his Lincoln researches, 
delivering several lectures on phases of Lincoln's life, practicing law, 
and keeping up a large general correspondence. 

"Perhaps it is not unworthy of note that it was to Herndon, and 
not to Lincoln, that, for years before his nomination for the Presi- 
dency, such men as Parker, Sunnier, Seward, Phillips, Greeley, and 
Garrison wrote. To be sure, the youthful and ardent Herndon always 
began the correspondence ; yet, even so, it was to him and not to his 
partner that these brilliant men, molders of the public opinion of the 
time, looked for reports of conditions in Illinois. It is extremely 
curious that, judging from their letters to Herndon, these leaders 
seemed not to have realized that Lincoln amounted to anything during 
that period.'* 

After Herndon's death, almost every biographer of Lincoln who 
wanted to do justice to his subject communicated with Weik and 
begged him for a glimpse of the Herndon material. No one knew of the 
similar letters Herndon had written to Hart, Arnold, Lamon y Bartlett, 
and Whitney. Consider the importunate letters of Dr. Barton; he 
wrote about a hundred of them, and finally became so insistent that 
Weik submitted the question to Beveridge, and the decision given by 
the Senator was in the negative : "After giving prolonged and careful 
thought to the matter of letting Barton have any of your material, 
and, in view of your broad-minded and generous letter and the con- 
fidence you repose in me, I consulted about it, in absolute confidence, 
with Worthington Chauncey Ford, Ellery Sedgwick, and Greenslet, 
all of whom firmly believe that, under the circumstances, I should not 
part with any of this material. ... In view of the combined judg- 
ment of all four of us ... my advice is ... to tell him frankly 
that you cannot part with any further material and thus end the 

Thus did Beveridge y after himself lifting no more than a corner of 
the veil over Herndon's researches, prevent their being revealed to 
others. Prom 1889 f no one was allowed to have access to this mine of 
information until in 1922 most of it had passed into other hands and 


a good deal of it into the Henry E. Huntington Library along with the 
Lamon and Hart Collections. 

But long before this a series of articles began to appear in Century 
which were ultimately to become Nicolay and Hay's great ten-volume 
work on Lincoln certainly intended to be, and widely greeted as, the 
definitive biography of the Civil War President. Herndon read the 
articles as they appeared, and his criticism, scattered through his let- 
ters to Weik and others, was deadly. "They are aiming," he says, 
"first, to do a superb piece of literary work ; second, to make the story 
with the classes as against the masses. It will result in delineating the 
real Lincoln about as well as does a wax figure in the museum. . . . 
Nicolay and Hay have suppressed many facts material facts of 
Lincoln's life, and among them are Lincoln's genealogy, paternity, 
the description of Nancy Hanks, old Thomas Lincoln, the Ann Rut- 
ledge story, Lincoln's religion, Lincoln's spells of morbidity, the facts 
of Lincoln's misery with Mary Todd, Lincoln's backdown on the 
night that he and Mary Todd were to be married, etc., etc. I do not 
say that they did not mention some of these things in a roundabout 
way, but I do say that the kernel, 'nib,' or point of things has been 
purposely suppressed. Nicolay and Hay do know the facts fully, as I 
am informed on good authority. . . . Nicolay and Hay handle things 
with silken gloves and a camel-hair pencil. They do not write with an 
iron pen. . . Some of the finest episodes in Lincoln's young life are 
omitted or evaded or swallowed up in words. . . . They are writing 
the Life of Lincoln under the surveillance of Bob Lincoln. Nicolay and 
Hay, in my opinion, are afraid of Bob. He gives them materials and 
they in turn play hush. This- is my opinion, and is worth no more than 
an honest opinion." 

It is curious that John Hay himself admitted the justice of this sort 
of criticism in a letter to Herndon, which incidentally contains what 
is perhaps one of the finest estimates of Lincoln's character: "No 
great man was ever modest. It was his intellectual arrogance and un- 
conscious assumption of superiority that men like Chase and Sumner 
never could forgive. I believe Lincoln is well understood by the people. 
Miss Nancy Bancroft and the rest of that patent-leather kid-glove set 
know no more of him than an owl does of a comet blazing into its blink- 
ing eyes. Bancroft's address was a disgraceful exhibition of ignorance 


and prejudice. His effeminate nature shrinks instinctively from the 
contact of a great reality like Lincoln's character. I consider Lin- 
coln Republicanism incarnate, with all its faults and all its virtues. 
As, in spite of some rudeness. Republicanism is the sole hope of a sick 
world, so Lincoln, with all his foibles, is the greatest character since 

Hay idolized Lincoln, but he also loved Robert, his boyhood friend. 
He did want to please his friend, even to the extent of omitting from 
his biography anything Robert desired left unsaid. Both Hay and 
Nicolay, Lincoln's other secretary and hero-worshiper, admit to writ- 
ing to please Robert. In Hay's letter * to Robert T. Lincoln (January 
27, 1884), requesting Robert to look over the chapters embracing the 
first forty years of his father's life, he says : 

"I need not tell you that every line has been written in a spirit of 
reverence and regard. Still, you may find here and there words and 
sentences which do not suit. I write now to request that you will read 
with pencil in your hand and strike out everything to which you ob- 
ject. I will adopt your view in all cases, whether I agree with you or 
not. 5 ' Robert Lincoln must have taken this injunction very seriously, 
since the first forty years of Lincoln's life are summarized in only 282 
pages out of the 4709 pages of the completed book. 

In his letter to Robert Lincoln on January 6, 1886, Hay writes : 
"I was very sorry to see by a letter you wrote to Nicolay that you 
were still not satisfied with my assurance that I would make these first 
chapters all right. Even before you read them I had struck out of my 
own copy here nearly everything that you objected to and had written 
Nicolay to make the changes in his ... since then I have gone over 
the whole thing and will again, reading every line so far as possible 
from your point of view, and I don't think there is a word left in that 
would displease you. But, of course, before final publication I shall 
give you another hack at it with plenary blue pencil powers." 

In his letter of March 5, 1888, Hay says : "I thank you for the 
corrections, all of which I have of course adopted." 

To Henry Adams, Hay writes, August 4, 1889 : "I only wonder at 
the merciful Providence which keeps my critics away from the weak 
joints in my armor. Laws-a -mercy ; if I had the criticizing of that 

i This and the letters referred to below appeared after Hay's death in his diary, 
"printed but not published," and distributed only among friends of the Hay family. 


book, what a skinning I could give it ! I can't amend it, but could 
ereinter it I would break its back de la belle maniere." 

Not satisfied, it would seem, with his part in emasculating certain 
portions of Nicolay and Hay's great work, Robert Lincoln went on to 
an action which has not even yet been fully disclosed. Senator Bev- 
eridge requested of Robert Lincoln permission to examine all the pa- 
pers which formed the basis of Nicolay and Hay's work in order to 
check on its correctness. Robert Lincoln informed Senator Beveridge 
that he thought Beveridge's work superfluous, if not useless, as he con- 
sidered Nicolay and Hay's volumes the last word, the encyclopedia, 
of Lincoln information, the fairest and most complete compendium 
of the events of Lincoln's life, as well as the only impartial commentary 
on that life ; and he said so repeatedly, not only in conversation but 
also over signature. He had been of that opinion for more than a 
quarter of a century before Beveridge made his request. Robert Lin- 
coln therefore refused Beveridge's request to check the papers which 
had been given to Lincoln's former secretaries and which they had 
freely used and in many cases too many edited (they had even 
edited Lincoln's farewell address at Springfield, omitting a human 
sentiment or two that did not please them) . 

Beveridge made further futile efforts through friends of Robert 
Lincoln, but Lincoln became adamant on the subject. In order to 
make it impossible for Beveridge ever to see the documents, Lincoln 
made a deed of gift presenting them all to the Library of Congress, 
on condition that they were not to be opened or seen by anyone without 
his consent or the consent of his wife, in writing, until twenty-one 
years after his death. These documents are now classified in folders 
and lodged in bookcases bearing the legend: "Not to be consulted/ 5 
and there they will remain until 1947. But before presenting them to 
the Library of Congress, Lincoln subjected the papers to a purge. A 
friend of the late Horace G. Young, President of the Delaware & Hud- 
son Railroad, tells the following story : 

"Horace G. Young was an intimate friend of Robert T. Lincoln, 
and he and Mr. Lincoln were accustomed to spend part of each summer 
together* A few years before Mr. Lincoln's death, Mr. Young went as 
usual to visit him at Mr. Lincoln's home in Manchester, Vermont. On 
arriving at the house he found Mr. Lincoln in a room surrounded by a 
number of large boxes and with many -papers scattered about the 


floor, and with the ashes of many burnt papers visible in the fireplace. 
Mr. Young asked Mr. Lincoln what he was doing, and Mr. Lincoln 
replied that he was destroying some of the private papers and letters 
of his father, Abraham Lincoln. Mr. Young at once remonstrated 
with Mr. Lincoln and said that no one had any right to destroy such 
papers, Mr. Lincoln least of all. Mr. Lincoln replied that he did not 
intend to continue his destruction since the papers he was destroying 
contained the documentary evidence of the treason of a member of 
Lincoln's Cabinet, and that he thought it was best for all that such 
evidence be destroyed. Mr. Young immediately visited Dr. [Nicholas 
Murray] Butler, who was in town, and told him what Robert T. Lin- 
coln was doing. Dr. Butler promptly called on Robert T. Lincoln and 
argued and pleaded with him and finally prevailed upon him to de- 
sist and place the papers where they would be safe in order that they 
might be preserved for posterity." 

Dr. Butler's own account * of the incident is as follows : "It was 
Mr. Horace G. Young, then at Manchester, Vermont, who brought to 
my attention within a few hours after I arrived from Europe the fact 
that Robert Lincoln was about to burn a collection of his father's 
papers, and that he, Mr. Young, had been unable to persuade him 
not to do so. I went immediately to his house and had a most earnest 
discussion of the whole subject with Mr. Lincoln in his library. I 
went so far as to insist that the papers did not belong to him, since 
his father had belonged to the country for half a century and the pa- 
pers therefore belonged to the country also. Robert Lincoln finally 
acceded to my urgent and insistent request for the preservation of the 
papers and sent them under seal to the Library of Congress, there to 
remain unopened for fifty years. 

"Subsequently, Senator Beveridge, then engaged on his Life of Lin- 
coln, having heard of the incident, asked me to procure for him op- 
portunity to examine these papers. I have the Correspondence with 
Robert Lincoln in which he declined flatly to grant Beveridge's re- 

The diary of Orville H. Browning, United States Senator from 
Illinois, did not fare any better. Here was a calm, dispassionate his- 
torian and observer, certainly a friend of Lincoln and a colleague at 
the bar of Illinois, who wrote his diary and made entries from day to 
1 In a letter to the writer, dated November 5, 1937. 


day. That diary remained secreted until a few years ago, when it was 
turned over to the University of Illinois and was then permitted by 
the owner to be edited and printed only on condition that certain sec- 
tions and entries be omitted. They were omitted. 

So it went. McClure's papers on Lincoln were destroyed by General 
McCausland; Robert Levi Todd, one of Lincoln's intimate associates, 
left his papers to Todd Gentry, who destroyed them. Lincoln's enemies 
in the South destroyed many documents, as did collectors who were 
interested in saving only Lincoln's signature. Even the elements joined 
in the destruction, the Chicago fire having been responsible for the loss 
of much significant material. 

For these reasons alone, the work of Herndon, a man who put the 
passion for truth before any "kid-glove" considerations, would become 
of paramount historical importance. Unfortunately Herndon's book 
too succumbed to the forces that were responsible for the policy of 
hush. Even so, as finally published by Belford, Clarke & Company, in 
its mutilated form, poorly printed, on poor paper, in three ridiculous 
little volumes, Herndon's Life still raised a storm of criticism for some 
of the things it contained ; for this censored book * has been the chief 
source of practically all we know of Lincoln up to the day he left 
Springfield. Herndon simply wanted Lincoln to become as familiar to 
all Americans as the air we breathe, and for this reason he wanted each 
detail of Lincoln's life spread fairly on the record. He was not allowed 
to do this in his own book, and he died penniless and slandered. 

This, then, until recently seemed to be the whole pathetic story of 
William H. Herndon, who strove to lay down the foundations of the 
true history of the great man to whom he had given his whole heart ; 
whose secretary, adviser, and partner he had been ; to whom he had 
been purveyor of every book, newspaper, magazine, or pamphlet Lin- 
coln needed ; whose ambassador-at-large and confidential agent to such 
men as Theodore Parker, Horace Greeley, and the leaders of the Re- 
publican party in the East he was. But for some years many of the 
documents have been reposing in the Henry E. Huntington Library 
in San Marino, California, including the originals not only of Hern- 
don's draft chapters for Lamon's book and of his letters to Weik, but 
also the complete series of letters he wrote to Charles H. Hart, Ward 

i It was republished in two volumes under the editorship of Horace White in 1895, 
and finally appeared in 1935 in one handy volume as edited by Paul M. Angle. 


H. Lamon, I. N. Arnold, and others, all of them containing and re- 
peating those results of Herndon's researches which he was never able 
to make public. 

When, in November 1933, the Herndon documents given to Weik 
were made available for my inspection, I kept reading for six months 
thereafter all of it. As these invaluable papers unfolded before me, 
I felt like Balboa standing on a peak in Darien viewing the Pacific 
Ocean for the first time. In 1931 I had published 1250 Lincoln docu- 
ments hitherto unknown, and they have played a part in the reap- 
praisal of Lincoln, but this find was fundamental and massive and 
called for independent publication. I went to the Huntington Library 
to examine for myself the greatest collection of unused Herndon ma- 
terial in existence. 

"Here is the most important item in this entire collection, 5 ' Herndon 
had said, as he pointed to a small leather-covered notebook about six 
by four inches in size, the two covers being fastened together with a 
brass clasp. "In its pages you will find ... all the ammunition Mr. 
Lincoln saw fit to gather in preparation for his battle with Stephen 
A. Douglas." He then explained that, as the contest of 1858 was ap- 
proaching, Mr. Lincoln took this book, originally a blank book which 
had been used by himself and his partner to keep track of citations of 
cases, and proceeded to paste in its pages newspaper clippings, tables 
of statistics, and other data bearing on the great and absorbing ques- 
tions of the day, with a few sentences scribbled in here and there. 
**When this little storehouse of political information was filled," ob- 
served Herndon, "Mr. Lincoln fastened the clasp, placed the book in 
his coat pocket, there to repose during the campaign and to be drawn 
upon whenever the exigencies of debate required it." Only two pages 
of this book ever came to light. Now the whole book is available. 

The book contains about one hundred and eighty-five clippings ; the 
first item in the book is the second paragraph of the Declaration of 
Independence. Lower down on the same page we find a paragraph from 
a speech by Henry Clay : "I repeat it, sir, I never can and never will 
and no earthly power will make me look directly or indirectly to spread 
slavery over territory where it does not exist. Never while reason holds 
her seat in my brain never while my heart sends the vital fluid 
through my veins NEVEB." Next, Lincoln inserted a portion of the 


opening of his speech before the Republican State Convention, wherein 
he gave utterance to the doctrine that "a house divided against itself 
cannot stand." 

It is strange that no mention seems to be made by Herndon of a sec- 
ond notebook compiled by Lincoln, equally if not more important, and 
more scientifically prepared, than the Douglas debate notebook. This 
second little notebook Lincoln prepared on the subject of slavery. It 
contains about the same number of newspaper clippings and excerpts 
as does the Douglas book, but this is indexed, so that Lincoln was in- 
stantly able to find and quote the proper passage on almost any phase 
of the slavery problem without fear of challenge. No wonder Douglas 
repeatedly stated that he would rather face the whole United States 
Senate than Lincoln alone. 

Herndon's six series of letters were written in 1866, 1868, 1870, 
1886, 1889, and 1891 and their very repetitiousness is of significance 
in disproving the charge that Herndon's memory played him false. 
Hence I have retained many letters for reproduction for that reason 
alone. Other letters have been included because of the light they throw 
upon Herndon's character and credibility. Otherwise a great deal has 
been omitted from the collection by reason of its irrelevance to the Lin- 
coln question. Herndon's letters are here reprinted in strictly chrono- 
logical order, but some approximation to a division according to re- 
cipients has been arrived at by marking off the total series of letters in 
Part One of this volume into five sections : the first of letters mainly 
to Hart, the second to Lamon, the third to Weik, the fourth to Whit- 
ney and Bartlett, and the fifth to Bartlett and Weik. 

To these has been added Part Two, consisting, first, of the evidences 
on which Herndon based his conclusions letters written to Herndon 
in response to his requests for information and statements and affida- 
vits gathered by Herndon and, secondly, of those conclusions them- 
selves as expressed by Herndon in his monographs and draft chapters. 
In this Part the distinction between Herndon's own writings and the 
statements of others has been made apparent to the eye by the typo- 
graphical device of having the latter set in smaller type. Spelling and 
punctuation, but not grammar or other peculiarities of style, have 
been normalized. 

Here at last is Herndon's work in Herndon's own language and in 



the language of the people he interviewed David Davis, the Justice of 
the Supreme Court of the United States, who rarely wrote or spoke of 
what he knew of Lincoln ; Joseph Gillespie ; James H. Matheny ; Sarah 
Bush Lincoln, Abraham's devoted stepmother ; Grigsby ; Dennis and 
John Hanks ; E. B. Washburne, Congressman and Cabinet officer and 
minister to France; Norman B. Judd, great lawyer and political 
leader ; John Wentworth, Congressman and Mayor of Chicago ; Jesse 
K. Dubois, lawyer and banking commissioner ; Governors William H. 
Bissell, Richard Yates, and R. J. Oglesby of Illinois ; John L. Scripps, 
editor of the Chicago Tribune; John B. Helm ; Joshua F. Speed, ad- 
mittedly Lincoln's closest friend and adviser ; John T. Stuart, Lin- 
coln's first partner, a lawyer of ability; Hannah Armstrong, who 
helped Lincoln, who in turn defended her son charged with murder 
and won his acquittal after a remarkable struggle ; John McNamar, 
Ann Rutledge's first affianced ; Henry C. Whitney, one of the younger 
men in whom Lincoln had confidence; Leonard Swett, lawyer who 
practiced in the Eighth Illinois Circuit and was a friend of Lincoln ; 
Ninian W. Edwards and his wife, the sister of Lincoln's wife; John H. 
Littlefield, one of Lincoln's faithful law clerks; Jesse W. Fell; Law- 
rence Weldon, a lawyer who traveled the circuit with Lincoln and was 
later one of his appointees ; F. B. Carpenter, painter who lived at the 
White House for six months ; Orlando B. Ficklin, lawyer and intimate 
friend of Lincoln ; Charles S. Zane, law clerk and Justice of the United 
States District Court ; Stephen T. Logan, great lawyer and Lincoln's 
partner; Pascal B. Enos, engineer and surveyor; Joseph Medill, edi- 
tor and owner of the Chicago Tribune; Lyman Trumbull, Senator and 
political leader ; Mentor Graham ; Rebecca Herndon, Archer G. Hern- 
don, Elliott B. Herndon, J. Rowan Herndon, and James A. Herndon 
all related to William H. Herndon ; Horace White, editor of the 
Chicago Tribune who accompanied Lincoln during the debates with 
Douglas, editor of the New York Evening Post, and one of the most 
reliable of Lincoln students and biographers ; Joseph G. Cannon, law- 
yer, Congressman, and Speaker of the House of Representatives, who 
saved Lincoln's stepmother from prosecution for larceny while her son 
was in the White House ; Daniel E. Voorhees, long a Senator, who 
heard Lincoln on the circuit and talked and wrote about Lincoln; 
Adlai E. Stevenson and Henry Wilson, both Vice-Presidents of the 


United States ; Charles A. Dana, editor of the New York Tribune, 
Assistant Secretary of War, and finally editor of the Sun; and Henry 
Ward Beecher, clergyman, orator, publicist. 

After reading this entire collection, situated in Huntington, in the 
Library of Congress, and in the Herndon collections, consisting of 
more than ten thousand pages of original material, I came to the con- 
clusion that both Herndon and Lincoln had been defrauded of the 
appreciation due them by the neglect of these documents. "You owe a 
tremendous debt of gratitude to dear old Herndon,'* Beveridge writes 
to Weik, "and what is more important, you owe it to the world to 
rescue that splendid old gentleman from the morass of misrepresenta- 
tion and even slander into which interested and prejudiced persons 
threw him." 

Slandered Herndon certainly has been : "Herdon was a liar," "Hern- 
don was a drunkard," "Herndon was a drug addict," "Herndon was 
jealous," "Herndon was ungrateful," "Herndon was enraged that 
Lincoln did not take him along and make him a part of his administra- 
tion." Herndon's controversy with the Reverend James A. Reed over 
Lincoln's religion, as quoted in Lamon's Life of Lincoln, was the cause 
for the appearance in the press of items charging Herndon with being 
a lunatic, a pauper, a drunkard, an infidel, a liar, a knave. These libels 
Herndon answered from time to time as best he could. 

In September 1882, the Cherryvale, Kansas, Globe-News published 
the following article: 

"Lincoln's Old Law Partner a Pauper" 

"Bill Herndon is a pauper in Springfield, 111. He was once worth 
considerable property. His mind was the most argumentative of any 
of the old lawyers in the State, and his memory was extraordinary. 
. . . Herndon, with all his attainments, was a man who now and then 
went on a spree, and it was no uncommon thing for him to leave an im- 
portant lawsuit and spend several days in drinking and carousing. 
This habit became worse after Lincoln's death, and like poor Dick 
Yates, Herndon went down step by step till his old friends and asso- 
ciates point to him as a common drunkard." 

On November 9, 1882, Herndon issued a broadside which he entitled 
"A Card and a Correction." After implying that Reed and others who 


held opinions concerning Lincoln's religion opposite to his own were 
in no small measure responsible for this and similar allegations, he 
made his defense in the following words : 

"There are three distinct charges in the above article. First, that I 
am a pauper ; second, that I am a common drunkard ; and, third, that 
I was a traitor, or false to my clients. Let me answer these charges in 
their order* First, I am not a pauper, never have been, and never expect 
to be. I am working on my own farm making my own living with my 
own muscle and brain, a place and a calling that even Christianity with 
its persecution and malignity can never reach me to do me much harm. 
I had, it is true, once a considerable property, but lost much of it in the 
crash and consequent crisis of 1873, caused in part by the contraction 
of the currency, the decline in the demand for agricultural products, 
which I raised for sale, in part by the inability of the people to buy, 
etc., etc., and for no other reasons. 

"Second, I never was a common drunkard, as I look at it, and am 
not now. I am and have been for years an ardent and enthusiastic tem- 
perance man, though opposed to prohibition by law, by any force or 
other choker. The time has not come for this. It is a fact that I once, 
years ago, went on a spree ; and this I now deeply regret. It, however, 
is in the past, and let a good life in the future bury the past. I have not 
fallen, I have risen ; and all good men and women will applaud the deed, 
always excepting a small, little, bitter Christian like the Right Rev. 
pastor and liar of this city, to whom I can trace some of the above 
charges. In my case this minister was an eager, itching libeler, and 
what he said of me is false nay, a willful lie. 

"Third, I never was a traitor or untrue to my clients or their inter- 
ests. I never left them during the progress of a trial or at other times 
for the cause alleged, drunkenness. I may have crept, slid, out of a 
case during the trial because I had no faith in it, leaving Mr. Lincoln, 
who had faith in it, to run it through. My want of faith in the case 
would have been discovered by the jury and that discovery would have 
damaged my client, and to save my client I dodged. This is all there is 
in it and let men make the most of it." 

Another charge repeatedly made against Herndon by persons who 
considered defamatory his lectures on, and investigations into, Lin- 
coln's life was that Herndon hated Lincoln for not considering him 
for some prominent office in his administration. Herndon long ago 


acquitted Lincoln of ingratitude. He tells that the appointment of 
himself, Herndon, to office was the very first thing Lincoln thought of 
after his election. It was Herndon who refused to become a member of 
the administration. He told Lincoln that he was content with the office 
of State Banking Commissioner, which he then held, and Lincoln im- 
mediately proceeded to Governor Yates to make sure of Herndon's re- 
appointment to that post. 

If these papers serve to rehabilitate Herndon, they will not, as many 
have feared, do harm to Lincoln's name and fame. They contain the 
best yet said as well as the worst of the man Lincoln; and they may 
clear up many a problem which has not been heretofore understood, 
and which, because it had hitherto to express itself in guarded hints 
and rumors, created an atmosphere of slander. An unbiased and ac- 
curate Life of Lincoln is now much more nearly possible, and the 
American people who produced out of themselves so great a man de- 
serve no less. 

No one seriously questions the accuracy of the statements Herndon 
made in his letters to Theodore Parker ; perhaps it has not as yet oc- 
curred to anyone to do so. In Dr. Newton's Lincoln and Herndon are 
fifty-two letters which show the great friendship between Parker and 
Herndon. Nor is there any general criticism of the accuracy of the 
main facts stated in Herndon's lectures or in his book, for most biog- 
raphers have themselves appropriated these facts. Indeed a Life of 
Lincoln without quotations from Herndon cannot be written. The 
criticism of Herndon has usually been on the score, first, of his conclu- 
sions and, secondly, of the specific proportion between truth and error. 

Now as to both these approaches, the argument has after all hitherto 
been conducted on the basis of insufficient evidence. Those who accuse 
Herndon of unreliability in fact and hastiness in conclusions have 
never had before them all of Herndon's evidence or a complete state- 
ment of his case. They have not known the remarkable extent to which 
Lincoln's friends and associates bore out Herndon's researches and 
opinions. None delved so deeply into the intimate details of Lincoln's 
life as did Herndon. How then can such persons decide as to the pro- 
portion of fact and fancy in Herndon's public statements ? 

Here at last is Herndon's complete evidence, the full record of the 
steps by which he reached his conclusions, the supporting testimony 
of his and Lincoln's contemporaries. The principals of the storv are 


no longer alive, and no excuse remains for silence. These seventy years 
have made meaningless the passions which were responsible for the 
misunderstanding of Herndon and his motives. Now we who love the 
memory of Lincoln may properly thank the fate which gave us William 
Herndon's unflagging passion for completeness. "Men collect gold," 
says Chrysostom, "not only in lumps but also in the minutest frag- 
ments. " All may now subscribe to the appraisal of Herndon's work by 
a man who knew Lincoln intimately, second perhaps only to Herndon 
and Lamon, the great journalist Horace White: 

"What Mr. Lincoln was after he became President can best be un- 
derstood by knowing what he was before. The world owes more to 
William H. Herndon for this particular knowledge than to all other 
persons taken together. It is no exaggeration to say that his death 
. . . removed from earth the person who, of all others, had most thor- 
oughly searched the sources of Mr. Lincoln's biography, and had most 
attentively, intelligently, and also lovingly studied his character. He 
was generous in imparting his information to others. Almost every Life 
of Lincoln since the tragedy at Ford's Theater has been enriched by 
his labors." 

January 1938 

Part One 


Section One 

Springfield, III., January 8, 1866. 
Mr. Hart. 
My dear Sir : 

I have not published my two lectures. My friends got up condensed 
things reports of them. I am an extremely lazy man and have to be 
kicked to act. It took three hours to read them and hence you have 
only seen mere extracts. Many things were left out, and not noticed, 
because time and space, especially space, in the papers forbade a 
longer notice of them. I was just and truthful in the lectures made 
no humbug statements and fussy flourishes. I dearly loved and now 
reverence the memory of my dear friend^ I wrote the lectures solely 
for the purpose of putting him where he in fact and truth and question 
belongs. I have not any autograph letters of Mr. Lincoln now gave 
all away am sorry I cannot accommodate you. 

Yours truly, 


Springfield, III, January IS, 1866. 
Mr. Hart. 
My dear Sir: 

Some few days since I addressed you a hurried note, stating that I 
had no "autographic letters." This is a condensed expression, mean- 
ing I had no letters with the signature of Mr. Lincoln attached to 
them, but that I probably had other papers with his signature at- 
tached thereto. The expression saves me much time wind and ink. 
You will excuse me, will you not? write dozens of letters weekly on 
the same subject, etc. 

Enclosed you will find a bond for costs, signed by Mr. Lincoln, which 
I will give to you. It is now the best thing I can do probably the best 
thing you will get of anyone at any time. I would not spare this to 
everyone, let me assure you. I could have given it away a thousand 
times. The signature is Mr. Lincoln's as well as the body of the bond. 

I have been written to from the East notifying me that my queer 

lectures even in a condensed form, and as poor as they are will be 



published. If they are and copies are sent to me, I will send one to you. 
I ask you to excuse what is odd in me and my language. We are rough 
and ready out here rather than educated and polished. 

Yours truly, 


Springfield, HI., February 12, 1866. 
Mr. Hart. 
My dear Sir : 

Your kind letter of the 7th inst. is this moment handed me. The pa- 
pers the Bulletin and Press are likewise received, and for all which 
I thank you. I wrote to you a good-natured letter a few days since 
withdrawing my requests and now let me explain. I sent you a kind of 
memento of Lincoln namely his handwriting etc. This fact, I have 
no doubt none at all placed you in feeling kindly toward me. One 
day I got a notion in my head that I would get a notice published after 
about nine months* toil in that line. Foolishly, as I now think, I asked 
you to do what you did. I think I was hasty and honestly repented of 
what I did you should not have been asked. This is my sole reason for 
doing as I did in my last letter. But the deed is done and let me again 
say I thank you. You must believe me when I state the reason so 
frankly. . . . 

I would be a thousand times obliged to you if you would send me the 
facts information you write about namely the conversation be- 
tween Lincoln and your father. If you have any suggestions to make 
questions to ask about Mr. Lincoln any peculiarity or specialty of 
him you wish drawn out, please write to me and accommodate mankind, 
myself included, as a matter of course. 

Your friend, 


No sermons or eulogies here curious ! 

Springfield, III, March 9, 1866. 
Mr. Hart. 
My dear Sir: 

Your kind and excellent letter, dated the 3d inst ., has been duly re 
ceived. I thank you for it ; and now why should I not like it ? It contains 


valuable information in several ways first, it shows the kind and 
quality of Mr. Lincoln's virtues ; secondly, it shows his unrest, etc. ; 
thirdly, it shows his feelings as Executive ; fourthly, it shows discrimi- 
nation of men ; and, fifthly, wit, etc. I shall use the contents with great 
pleasure. The example of the wit you send me, I think excellent. It is 
new to us. 

I have not yet spoken to anyone about publishing my book. I have 
been written to by some but no arrangements have been made with 
anyone. Have you any suggestions to make? The idea which you sug- 
gest about publishing a list of sermons, eulogies, etc., is a good one, and 
should be done ; and should you ever get time to complete one I should 
like it very much. I cannot tell when I shall be ready to go to press. 
Hence you have "time on time." I thought I should publish, as ad- 
dendum, the Program of Funeral Ceremonies here. Your idea fits in 
exactly with my own. 

You owe me no apologies as your letter is in on time. By the by 
did you get a letter of mine, explaining why I attempted to withdraw 
my request made of you? The letter was intended to show that I did 
'wrong in making the request and for no other reason did I attempt to 
withdraw it. I hope you get the letter. 

We have had a kind of wild excitement here over the President's veto 
and his speech. We are a wild set of boys out here and must be excused. 

Your friend, 


Springfield, EL, April 13, 1866. 
Mr. Hart. 
My dear Sir : 

Your kind letter, dated the 5th inst ., is this moment handed me and 
for which I am much obliged. I was absent on the "circuit" doing law 
duties, etc., or should have answered sooner. What I say to you is 
always sincere and as candid as I know how to talk. I love to ask others 
love to get hints and criticisms and suggestions from others. Hence 
my requests of you. I shall be glad to get your "Bibliography" when 
completed. Take your own time, friend. I shall avail myself of your 
kind Suggestions in reference to the publication of my poor little book 
think your ideas are correct know so. Friend I thank you for 


that too exalted notice of me. I do not know who wrote it only guesjs 
I thank you for your kind favors and will try and repay some 

My dear friend, I never had my face photographed expect I'll 
have to do so to please my wife, and friends. If I ever do, I shall send 
you one on one condition namely you must not get scared at it. 

I have been out on law business doing Circuit Court duty heavy, 
laborious work, and am wearied. I am going to Kentucky soon to 
search for, hound down, some facts, and when I return I shall once 
more sit down to biographical dates. Oh, what an admirable sweet 
good boyish record "Abe" has left behind, i.e., his childhood's life for 
the world to love and to imitate. I sincerely wish I were a competent, 
a great man to write my friend's life but I can gather facts and give 
truth to mankind. 

Your friend, 


Springfield, III, June 29, 1866. 
Mr. Hart. 
My dear Sir : 

Your letter, dated the 26th inst., is this moment handed to me. You 
owe me no apologies, but as you offer them, let me say all right. I 
am glad you have done your work or nearly so i.e., the finishing ef 
your "Bibliography." The list is quite perfect. However, let me suggest 
one lecture. The title reads thus "The Life and Character of Abra- 
ham Lincoln A Lecture by Hon. Mark W. Delahay, of Leavenworth, 
Kansas." Mr. Delahay is Judge of the District Court of Kansas a 
U.S. court. I hold the lecture in my hand and copy the title, etc. word 
for word. I have not critically read the lecture. My lectures were never 
published in any way, except by shorthand, and then only portions of 
the lectures were published. The language and ideas are correct so far 
as they go. They never were published in pamphlet form. I intend to 
have my biography published in Philadelphia or New^ York. 

I hope to write a correct biography when it can be done. I shall make 
it truthful or not at all, and men shall intuitively feel that the biog- 
raphy is true correct and fair. The trouble is very, very great, I 
assure you. Thousands of floating rumors assertions and theories, 


etc., etc., have to be hunted down dug out inspected criticized, 
etc., etc., before I can write. I can't scribble on a sentence without 
knowing what I am doing. Between you and I, I am as busily engaged 
today in collecting materials times places, etc., etc., etc., as ever 
am going to Kentucky in July in search of new and important 

By the by in looking over some old papers the other day I found 
several "representative" letters addressed to me by Mr. L. when in 
Congress. I will send you a good one when I am done one that con- 
tains ideas, views, principles, etc., etc. good letter. Don't let me 
forget my promise. 

Your friend, 


(Hope you will have a good time in Pennsylvania at Miller.) 

Spring-field, III, July 2%, 1866. 
Mr. Hart. 
My dear Sir : 

I received your kind note, dated the 9th inst., enclosing to me a copy 
of your remarks and resolutions on the death of the Hon. Lewis Cass. 
They seem to me as just and in the proper spirit. 

The lecture of Mr. Delahay is a broadside your titles are full and 
complete, and hence are entirely satisfactory to the mind. I shall get 
you a copy of Mr. Delahay's lecture, if possible, and send to you. 
Many orations, sermons, etc., were delivered in Illinois on the death of 
Mr. Lincoln, but do not think that many of them were ever published. 
I have written to Chicago to get any and all printed lectures, orations, 
- sermons, etc., etc., and if I get any I will send to you. Speaker Colfax 
delivered one in Chicago soon after the death of Mr. L. It was pub- 
lished in the newspapers of Chicago. Others were delivered but can 
say no more. 

You can finish your "B[ibliography]" when you wish. A year will 
do me. So take your own time. My professional business disturbs me 
takes me off divides my mind and I "can't go fast." I have many old 
relics of Mr. L. which I wish you could see, and among them is a love 
letter which he wrote to his sweetheart at the age of twenty-three. 


Honor "sticks out" in it as in all his after life. I have a leaf of Mr. 
L.'s old copybook made in 1824 when fifteen years of age. I wish you 
could see it ; it is neat clean and exact in what is done one of his 
characteristics. Mr. L.'s life is a sweet, clear, clean, manly made life. 
The more I study it the more I like it. I sometimes thought that some 
of his peculiarities were things drawn on for effect, but letters to 
friends his gentle boyhood, manhood, through all situations, posi- 
tions, and conditions are identical one and the same ever honest 
and simple and sincere. His is a primitive type of character that the 
young must admire and over whom it must exercise in all coming time a 
vast influence. You once said to me that you thought I somewhat ex- 
aggerated. In some particulars I may have done so. Will you please 
tell me where in what I see above the truth in your opinion? I shall 
be obliged to you. I want to be exactly correct in my estimate of Mr. 
L. Please say to me what you think and I promise you to mend my mis- 
take. Come be candid. I'll admire you the more for it. 
Won't you excuse this long letter? 

Your friend, 


Springfield, EL, September 1> 1866. 
Mr. Hart. 
My dear Sir : 

I want to ask a favor of you, and it is this I want you to clip and 
to send to me from the leading Philadelphia papers the account of 
Mr. L.'s arrival and doings in your city from his entrance to his 
final departure. Please do this for me and mark which paper from, so 
that I may know which is which. You will please give me the same in 
reference to Harrisburg, if you can. I know no one in Harrisburg and 
hence must bore you. I must bother and bore friends, which I regret 
deeply so. 

I hope and pray that the good Union men now gathering in your 
city may have a good time and finally meet with entire success. 

Your friend, 


Springfield, III, September 1%, 1866. 
Friend Hart : 

Your letter, dated the 8th inst., is this moment handed to me. I was 
hurried when I wrote you and was not plain or explicit, I am afraid. I 
wished some newspaper account of Mr. Lincoln's visit to Philadelphia, 
and the conspiracy of Baltimore in February 1861. As Mr. Lincoln 
passed through Philadelphia in 1861 to Washington he made you a 
speech at Independence Hall. I wanted an account of his reception, etc., 
and the conspiracy at Baltimore, given as editorials by correspondents 
of your papers. I would not trouble my friends could I avoid it. You 
really must excuse me. 

Your friend, 


None of Lincoln's friends no Republican went to see Johnson 
cold and withering reception. 


Springfield, HI., November 1, 1866. 
Friend Hart : 

Your kind letter dated the 29th ult. is handed to me at my desk. I 
thank you for those two papers you sent me had never seen the 
notice before. . . . 

I am in court am busy indeed yet am preparing a lecture sub- 
stantially thus "Lincoln, Miss Rutledge, New Salem, Pioneers, and 
the Poem" after two years' labor I've found out the history of the 
poem called "Immortality," in short here as : "Oh ! Why should the 
spirit of mortal be proud?" The story is a fine one and as soon as de- 
livered will send you a copy in full. I want no more short report of 
my printed lectures. The facts which I shall reveal, for the first time 
in the world, throw a footlight on Mr. Lincoln's sad life, etc., etc. 
Can't say more excuse me, won't you? I have read notes to a lady, 

Miss of Boston, and hope she won't reveal till I get ready ; but 

you know the world. Again excuse me. 

Your friend, 


Springfield, III., November 16, 1866. 
Friend Hart : 

I sent you on yesterday evening a lecture on Mr. Lincoln, as prom- 
ised. It was, my dear friend, written while I was at court part in one 
copy and part in another. I claim no literary power, taste, etc., but I 
do claim to possess the wish to tell the truth. I think the matter good. 
Please read it, form your opinion, and write me candidly what you 
think of it in the light herein spoken. If you see any comments on it in 
the papers, please clip out and send to me. I wish to have them as a 
guide how far to go what to say, etc., hereafter. 

I hope I said nothing in any of my hurried notes to you, throwing 
cold water upon your highly important undertaking. 

I am your friend, 

Springfield, BL, November W, 1866. 
Friend Arnold : 

I wrote you a hasty note on Saturday, and now propose to finish 
my defense. You ask me if Mr. Lincoln was ever crazy in Menard 
County was insane in 1835 ; and in answer to which I say he was, 
as the people in that region understand craziness or insanity, and I 
fear much worse than I painted it, though I told the story as my reason 
and evidences make it show it, and see it. You ask me if Mr. Lincoln 
in fact made the identical speech which I put in his mouth. He did not 
make that speech in words, though he did in substance and spirit just 
as I have told them. 

Again did you know that Mr. Lincoln wrote a work a book on 
Infidelity and that his friends say they burnt it up? Beware that 
some leaf is not slumbering to be sprung on you, when we are dead 
and gone, and no defense being made he, L., will go down all time as 
a writer on infidelity, atheism, etc. How are you going to meet this? 
Don't scold and suspicion even by shadowy vision indirectly your 
true friend, your co-laborer, till you know all know it as I do, and as 
time will have it and make it irrespective of you and myself. My own 
present opinion is that that book was written in 1835 and 6, written 
through the spirit of his misery, through the thought and idea that 
God had forsaken him, and through the echoes of Lincoln's mental 


condition, suffering, a burden of wild despair. The dates as I nave 
them make the book before the crazy spell but every knowledge of 
Lincoln and my reason tell me that the book was written in 1836. I 
am now in search of the facts the true and exact facts as to time, 
place, and persons. Men place the book before the spell, and I after it. 
I will write you my final conclusions about the facts. Let me alone 
(smiling and good humoredly), I have my own work and mission. I 
may here say, as I have said before to you, that I worship, reverence 
Lincoln, his memory and fame. I loved him while living and reverence 
him now that he is dead and gone ; he was the best friend I ever had 
excepting my own wife and my mother ; he was the best friend I ever 
expect to have, save mother and wife ; and I repeat to you that I think 
Mr. Lincoln was the best man, the kindest, tenderest, noblest, loveliest, 
since Christ. He was better and purer than Washington ; and in mind 
he stands incomparable, grandly looming up. He is now the great 
central figure of American History. God bless Abraham Lincoln ! 

Again did you know that Mr. Lincoln was "as crazy as a loon" m 
this city In 184,1; that he did not sit, did not attend to the Legislature, 
but in part, if any (special session of 1841) ; that he was then de- 
ranged? Did you know that he was forcibly arrested by his special 
friends here at that time ; that they had to remove all razors, knives, 
pistols, etc., from his room and presence, that he might not commit 
suicide? Did you know that his crazy bout was partly caused by that 
old original love coming in conflict with new relations about to be as- 
sumed? His fidelity to it was sublime. Did you know that all Lincoln's 
struggles, difficulties, etc., between himself and wife were partly, if 
not wholly, caused by Mrs. L.'s cognition that Lincoln did not love 
her, and did love another? Lincoln told his wife that he did not love 
her, did so before he was married to her; she was cognizant of the 
fact that Lincoln loved another. Did you know that the Hell through 
which Lincoln passed w^s caused by these things? Mrs. Lincoln's 
knowledge that Lincoln did not love her and did love another caused 
much trouble between them. I say, Lincoln told her he did not love her. 
The world does not know her, Mrs. L.'s, sufferings, her trials, and the 
causes of things. Sympathize with her. I shall never rob Mrs. Lincoln 
of her justice justice due her. Poor woman! She will yet have her 
rewards. All these facts are not to go into my biography now 9 and yet 
the world will know all in spite of your wish or my desire, or any man's 


will. Do you not know you ought to know that the Chicago Times 
and some mean men have these facts stowed away in their malicious 
brains and desks, and I propose and will meet the facts face to face 
and modify where I cannot truthfully deny? Justice to the dead and 
to all mankind demands it now when it can be done. Poor man! the 
world knows thee not, and who shall defend thee and set thee right 
before the world, and chain and rivet the deep, eternal, and forever 
abiding sympathy of mankind to thee? My dear sir, what makes 
Europe and America love Christ? It is our sympathy that is at the 
root ; and shall I strip Abraham of his crown and cross? It is criminal 
to do so. Did you know that Mr. Lincoln was informed of some facts 
that took place in Kentucky about the time he was born (was told so 
in his youth), that eat into his nature, and as it were crushed him, and 
yet clung to him, like his shadow, like a fiery shirt around his noble 
spirit? Lincoln for more than fifty long years walked through his 
furnace, had his cross and crown. Friend, what's the cause of his sad- 
ness, his gloom, his sometimes terrible nature? What made him so 
tender, so good, so honest, so just, so noble, so pure, so exalted, so 
liberal, so tolerant, so divine, as it were? It was the fiery furnace 
through which God rolled him, and yet the world must not know it, eh ! 
Good heavens ! shut out all light, freeze up all human sympathy from 
this sacred man! Never, no, never. All that I know of Mr. Lincoln only 
exalts him, brightens and sublimes him, and will endlessly draw the 
sympathies of all mankind to him. Kind man, good man, noble man, who 
knows thy sufferings but one man, and God? God bless thee, thou in- 
comparable man! 

Would you have Mr. Lincoln a sham, a reality or what, a symbol of 
an unreality ? Would you cheat mankind into a belief of a falsehood by 
defrauding their judgments? Mr. Lincoln must stand on truth or not 
stand at all. This age is remorseless in its pitiless pursuit of facts, 
and do you suppose you and I can escape the honest judgments of 
mankind? Mr. Lincoln always admitted facts, and avoided them if he 
could. He never told a lie by suggestion or suppression ; he thought it 
criminal; and shall I by suggestion or suppression lie? The man that 
dares now tell the truth, all and every necessary truth in reference to 
Lincoln, mankind will bless, and curse him that lies. Mark my words, 
friend. All. truths are necessary that show, explain, or throw light on 


Mr. Lincoln's mind, nature, quality, characteristics, thoughts, acts, 
and deeds, because he guided the Rebellion rather suppressed it 
and guided the grandest of Revolutions through its grand consumma- 

We have had a great Rebellion ending in a magnificent Revolution. 
Mr. Lincoln guided it. Mankind will know the causes, facts, and the 
relations of things, if the truth is told, and they will not if a lie is told. 
Cheat and delude mankind into a false philosophy ending in ruin ! My 
duty is to the ever living man and to God not forgetting my own 
poor self before the memory of the dead that hears not and cares, it 
may be, not. Truth is due mankind, and would you prefer a false ideal 
character that you make by suggestion or suppression through pen 
and paint above the real that God has made? The age of blind hero 
worship, thank God, has gone, and the worship of the truth is coming. 
My duty is to truth, man, and God. My mind is made up, and nothing 
but facts, experiences run and purified through reason, shall ever 
change my course. 

My dear friend, all that is said is kindly said, but firmly said. 

Your friend, 


P.S. Since I began to gather -facts nearly two years, I have under- 
gone various shades of opinion and belief, and after two years 5 reflec- 
tion on the facts, beliefs, and opinions of others, you now have my own 
opinion of the man and the spirit of my book. You may show this to as 
many men as you choose the more the better opinion, idea, i.e., you 
will have. 

Springfield, III, November 26, 1866. 
Friend Hart. 
My dear Sir : 

I have just returned from Chicago, and now wish to say a word or 
two to you. Enclosed is a copy of a letter which I wrote to the Hon. 
I. N. Arnold of Chicago, 1 who is writing a life of Mr. Lincoln. He is a 
good man, but I don't think he is a man of much nerve ; he is an honest 

i See p. 36. 


man, yet I think he is a timid man. Now* first as to the program or 
place of things. My first two lectures, as you are aware, were attempts 
to analyze Mr. Lincoln's mind. My third lecture was to show his 
Patriotism and Statesmanship. My second and third lectures were 
attempts to show the practical application of that mind to things, etc., 
while I analyze it, etc. My fourth lecture is an attempt to show external 
influences on it material and mental matter and mind on mind. My 
fifth lecture is to be on his infant and boyhood education the means, 
methods, and struggles of it, his mind, to know and to develop itself. 
When these things shall be done, corrected, annotated, etc., I think I 
shall have rendered mankind some five cents' worth of service. Possibly 
they will so hold. When these things are done, mankind could spare me 
well, I giving them the record which I have made of the man worth one 
million of dollars to the race. 

So much for an introduction. After having read Arnold's letter, my 
letter to him, you will prick up your ears. However you will now be- 
gin to detect a purpose in my fourth late lecture, not guessed at before ; 
and it is this. Mrs. Lincoln must be put properly before the world. She 
hates me, yet I can and will do her justice; she hates me on the same 
grounds that a thief hates a policeman who knows a dangerous secret 
about him. Mrs. Lincoln's domestic quarrels in my opinion sprang 
from a woman's revenge which she was not strong enough to resist. 
Poor woman ! The world has no charity for her and yet justice must 
be done her, being careful not to injure her husband. All that I know 
ennobles both, and their difficulties sprang from human nature a 
philosophy, if you please. You must have faith in me. I am willing to 
live by and to die by my letter to Arnold. The composition I care noth- 
ing about, in its artistic beauty, but the substance and spirit I do care 

Mr. Arnold is afraid that is the word that I shall drop some 
necessary truth that Lincoln's enemies will use to unholy purposes. I 
am not responsible for the misapplication, misappropriation, or other 
wrong use of a great necessary truth in Mr. Lincoln's life. I have a 
sublime faith in the triumph and eternity of truth, of humanity, man 
and God; they will put Arnold, you, and myself just where we belong. 
Is any man so insane as to suppose that any truth concerning Lincoln, 
or in relation to his thoughts, acts, and deeds, will be hid and buried 


out of human view? Pshaw! Folly! The best way is to tell the whole 
truth, and let it by its very presence and eternity crush and burn up 
all lies. Let it "burn to ashes what it lights to death." 

I propose as one of Mr. Lincoln's friends to meet the slumbering 
facts, deny them where I can, and modify where I cannot absolutely 
deny them. My judgment, and I appeal to mankind in the future, is 
that if the matter is talked over now the subject will be dropped in a 
hundred years or less from today. My judgment is poor as it may 
be that if these facts are concealed from mankind by his, L.'s, 
biographers now, they will grow and develop into a huge ever discussed 
lie, bothering and fretting mankind forever. I know human nature ; 
hide a mouse in a crack, and shade it, it will in the minds of men grow 
and expand into an elephant. So curious is the human mind. Glut its 
desires and turn away a perpetual howl. This is my judgment ; and I'll 
risk it during all coming time. I think I know what I am doing. The 
friends of Mr. Lincoln had better sift the questions now and here while 
there are living witnesses on the globe and living friends ready and 
willing to see and to have fair play. 

Mr. Lincoln can stand unstaggeringly up beneath all necessary or 
other truths. Timid men would rob Mr. Lincoln of his crown and cross, 
and steal the opinions, the philosophy, the reasons of mankind by the 
robbery of their judgment and logical faculty through a suggestion of 
falsehood or the suppression of the necessary facts of a great man's 

Please keep these letters safe till I go hence. 

Your friend, 


P.S. If you will change the program a little of the publication of my 
lectures, you will see, first, the education of the infant mind and its 
development; second, external influences mind and matter in it; 
third, the analysis of the man's mind ; and, fourth, the practical work- 
ings of that mind. 


You may show these letters to as many men as you please. The word 
suspicion does Mr. Arnold injustice. The word is fear. Don't publish ; 
anyone may copy, though not to be published. 



Springfield, III, November %8, 1866. 
Friend Hart. 
My dear Sir : 

. . . The reason I chose, made, the program of publication that I 
did was because the analysis of Mr. Lincoln's pure abstract mind was 
an absolute necessity. The second lecture of like, but of inferior neces- 
sity less value, etc., and so in the order of publication. I don't care 
whether men like this or not, nor whether they like my lectures or not. 
My day is tomorrow, not today, and to tomorrow I appeal. Men have 
not my Lincoln record to read, to know, and to study. Hence they do 
not know what is wise, what is policy, etc., etc., in the necessity in- 
cluded. I rest easy, calm, and cool. It is hard to beat a man when the 
game stands three and three, if that man has high-low-jack, and the 
game in his own hands. So I laugh and grow fat when I see men fretting 
themselves over what I say. 

Now you are informed fully of my present plan, as to the five lec- 

Your friend, 


Springfield, III, December 3, 1866, 
Mr. Cronyer. 
My dear Sir : 

Some few days since I wrote you a short note on the question of Mr. 
Lincoln's religion. I did this at your request, and as so short a letter 
as that is calculated to convey any idea, or no idea, I propose at your 
request to state especially what I know of Mr. L.'s religion. I sent you 
a lecture of mine delivered a week or so since, which I wish you to con- 
sider while reading this. You will perceive by that lecture that Mr. 
Lincoln's mind was shocked, shattered, by Miss Ann Rutledge's death. 
I told you in my letter that Mr. Lincoln once wrote a work on Infidelity 
so-called. This was and is true. Mr. Lincoln was told when a boy some 
asserted facts facts that somewhat disgraced some of his dear rela- 
tives. This story clung to him during all his life, a fire shirt, scorching 
him; he suffered that one suffering till 1835, when his love's death 
duplicated his suffering. The facts, as I can get them, are that he wrote 


the book on Infidelity before 1835. But from what I know of Mr. Lin- 
coln, and his double cross, I aver that that book was a burst of despair. 
The book was a lofty criticism, a high spiritual rationalistic criticism, 
like, as I understand the various evidences, my own knowledge of Mr. 
Lincoln included, Bishop Colenso's conclusions. There was no sneer, 
scoff, or ridicule of the Bible but a noble looking into it, and a char- 
itable telling of his conclusions of its fallibility and plenary inspira- 
tion. Lincoln wrote under the idea that God had cursed and crushed 
him especially. It is possible that he was severer on the Bible than I 
state. I give you my opinion, and that is mine from what I know of Mr. 
Lincoln's own ideas [rather] than from what others state. Some men 
do think that Mr. Lincoln did scoff and sneer at the Bible. This is not 
so ; he had no scoff, nor sneer, for even a sacred error ; he had charity 
for all and everything. God rolled Mr. Lincoln through His fiery 
furnace specially that he might be His instrument in the -future. This 
purifying process gave Mr. Lincoln charity, liberality, kindness, ten- 
derness, toleration, a sublime faith, if you please, in the purposes and 
ends of his Maker. 

Mr. Lincoln, as he has often told the world, had faith in the People 
and God ; he has told you, the People, that Providence rules the uni- 
verse of matter and substance, mind and spirit. That a law enwraps the 
universe, and that all things, beings, minds, were moving to their ap- 
pointed end. Hence Mr. Lincoln could not believe, as a rational man, a 
logical-minded one too, a very logical-minded one, that the Bible w;as 
the peculiar, only, and special revelation of God, as the theologic 
Christian world understands it; i.e., as they preach it. He did not 
believe that t few chosen men were particularly, specially, excluding 
all other men, inspired, as the theologic Christian world understands 
it ; i.e., as they preach it. It was impossible his mind was so organized 
for him to see or believe in such doctrines. Mr. Lincoln did not believe 
in the Miraculous Conception of Jesus, as the theologic Christian 
world understands that question, subject. I say to you he believed in a 
universal and an unvarying eternal law of things. He holds this up to 
you, and flares it always and everywhere in the faces of the people. I 
say to you that Mr. Lincoln was liberal, tolerant, having charity for 
all. Mr. Lincoln had no conception of forms, rules, formulas, and 
technical dogmas in science, law, or religion. He really was deficient 


in this particular, as I think. Mr. Lincoln could not endure a discussion 
of such things ; he could not read them ; he never visited wrangles of this 

While all this is true, yet he had a high respect for any man's sacred, 
liberal, or other opinion; he believed in the absolute necessity of some 
form of Christianity, and never did, after reflection, attempt to dis- 
turb any man's opinion, obtrusively so at least ; he loved the broad 
Christian philosophy, maxims, sayings, and moral of Christianity, 
not because any particular man said them, but because they were and 
are great, grand leading truths of human consciousness, the highest 
and loftiest inductions, deductions, if you please, of human reason or 
intuitions of the human soul. 

Mr. Lincoln's mind was severely logical ; he did in some moods, I 
think, doubt immortality ; the evidence before me is plain, and to that 
effect, and yet he generally believed in immortality ; his doubts on this 
question were as follows : he doubted his precise identity, individuality, 
and earthly consciousness, with all his memories ; he has said to me : 
"That would be a terrible thing." I mean to say he said this substan- 
tially, and yet I say he believed, had faith in immortality. This I know 
is denied by some men here; i.e., some men think that Mr. Lincoln 
thought the soul a mere spirit force, a mere animo-spirit. I mean by 
that word a vital force. This is not true, for he himself says to a 
brother about his dying father, this : "I sincerely hope father may yet 
recover his health ; but at all events tell him to remember to call upon 
and confide in one l great, one good and merciful Maker,, Who will not 
turn away from him in any extremity. He notes the 'fall of a sparrow, 
and numbers the hairs of our heads, and He will not forget the dying 
man, who puts his trust in Him. Say to him that if we could meet now 
it is doubtful whether it would not be more painful than pleasant, but 
that if it be his lot to go now he will soon have a joyous meeting with 
many loved ones gone before and where the rest of us, through the help 
of God, hope ere long to join them. Affectionately, A. Lincoln." 

This letter, the original one written by Mr. L. to his stepbrother 
John D. Johnston, dated the twelfth, 1851, is now in my hands. I copied 

i "The word 'one' should be 'our,' corrected by letter to Mr. Cronyer by letter 
December 17 or 18 telling him to notify, etc. W. H. H." See reference to this in 
Herndon's letter to Lamon, February 24, 1869, on p. 59. 


the above sentence, all there is on that subject, from the letter, my 
wife and I comparing. 

This letter of Mr. Lincoln's literally read and interpreted proves all 
I say or nearly so. The underscored words are not so italicized in the 
original. I must be fair. From what I have said, from what Mr. Lincoln 
has said at various times and places and on various occasions, you 
must not believe all you hear. Mr. Lincoln, in justice to him, never said, 
while speaking to the loyal colored people of Baltimore, of the Bible 
or New Testament, this : "But for that Book we could not know right 
from wrong." 

Mr. Lincoln, in my opinion, according to my recollection, thought 
all evil apparent evil in the end, not absolute evil ; he thought pain in 
this world educative, and he positively denied all punishments as pun- 
ishment in the future world ; if he did not totally and entirely positively 
deny all such punishment for any purposes or ends. You now have my 
opinion and best remembrance of Mr. Lincoln's religion. I am not 
afraid that this letter will ever be contradicted. Mr. Lincoln belonged 
to no church and believed in none. Mr. Lincoln was an intensely sincere 
and honest man, and as Judge Davis said of him : "When he was con- 
vinced on any question, when he believed he was right, he acted, and 
the terrors of mob opinion had no terrors for him." I quote Judge 
Davis substantially. I agree to this opinion of Judge Davis, and now 
do you for an instant suppose, my dear sir, that if Mr. Lincoln was 
really a converted man to the faith of three Gods, Revelation, In- 
spiration, Miraculous Conception, and their necessity, etc., as some 
of the Christian world pretend to believe of Mr. Lincoln, that he would 
not have boldly said so and so acted like a deeply sincere man and an 
honest one fearlessly of that mob furor? I know what I am saying, I 
think. I have evidences to support me. This letter is written with some 
little thought and care, I confess, and it is at your service. Do with it 
as you please, except its present publication. Read it to as many as you 
please and allow anyone to take copies or send copies to whom you 

Truly yours, 


P.S. Mr. Lincoln never to my knowledge repudiated his original little 
book ; he never said he was a universalist, Unitarian, rationalist, theist, 


or what not, and I dare not say what he was technically. I will write 
you again on Holland, Bateman, and such like men, sayings, and 
things, will give you a history of Holland's and Bateman's statement, 
etc., while things are fresh and I am living. Such speeches [as] are re- 
corded in Mr. Carpenter's book, page 199, I deem a farce. Mr. Lin- 
coln was a hypocrite or such things are false. 


Springfield, III, December 11, 1866. 
Mr. Carpenter. 
My dear Sir: 

I duly received your kind, pointed, and excellent letter, dated the 4th 
inst., and for which please accept my thanks. You interpret me cor- 
rectly. I am a pre-Raphaelite, i.e., a lover and worshiper of exact truth 
and nature, and religiously believe they should be followed, the former 
more than the latter. I think it eminently proper in artists when they 
are about to embody their thoughts into form, enwrapped in matter, to 
idealize the idea, the abstract idea, and so far you and I agree. But 
when you wish to paint a thing, a scene, a man, then follow nature. 
Here you and I differ. The difference lies in the Idea and the Tiling. 
Your letter is manly and honest ; and in my estimation you are lifted 
higher than before it was written. I admire your style of a man ; and 
now let me say a few words in self-defense. I know, did know, Mr. Lin- 
coln well, knew his sorrows and aspirations, his thoughts and history. 
I know, I feel, that for, say, fifty years God rolled Abraham Lincoln 
through His fiery furnace. He did it to try Abraham and to purify 
the man for His purposes. One of the things, the agonies, I shall not 
name and the other is the death of Ann Rutledge. This purifying proc- 
ess, this fiery birth, made Mr. Lincoln humble, tender, -forbearing, 
liberal, sympathetic to suffering, kind, sensitive, tolerant; broadening, 
deepening, and widening his whole nature; malting him noble and lovely, 


trailed the child, boy, and man day by day since February 12, 1809. 
And now shall the world be shut out of this temple of intelligence, pro- 
hibited from seeing and knowing what I see and know ? 

We, America, the people of America, have just passed through the 
greatest rebellion the world ever saw, ending in a sublime Revolution. 


The future should know the facts and law of it. They can only know 
them by being told truthfully what they are. Mr. Lincoln was Presi- 
dent, guided the ship of state over the Rebellion that was planned 
and planted for thirty years to wreck it. His ideas, thoughts, methods, 
plans, means, and program formed a part of the means, methods, etc., 
of its suppression. His thoughts shot into acts are his administration. 
To know the man well by nature, as made by nature, and modified by 
accidents, surroundings, and conditions, including men, is to know his 
thoughts, and to a certain extent the causes of them and their motives. 
Philosophy is marching that way; history will soon follow so will 
biography. The tendency, nay, it is a fact that the age moves to a 
higher and grander individuality, through a higher and grander devel- 
opment of the man. The tendency, nay, it is a visible fact that this in- 
dividuality, through development, approximates, is ever approximat- 
ing, to absolute truth. In proportion as this march is made, so dies 
blind bat-eyed hero worship. We are marching to the worship of Truth, 
absolute Truth, Right, and Justice. 

Three things enter into my ideas: first, self-respect; secondly, re- 
spect for the dead ; and, thirdly, the People. The, whole truth will erect 
the true man's true idea. Shall I suppress or suggest falsehood in order 
to build up a false ideal that the reading world may worship? I have 
two plans in view : one is to burn up my Lincoln record the finest in 
the world or ever witt be or to write the exact truth as I see it. The 
great, keen, shrewd, boring, patient, philosophic, critical, and remorse- 
lessly searching world will find out all things, and bring them to light, 
and the question is now : who shall do that a man's friends or his 
enemies ? Shall it be done now or left for the future world to wrangle 
over, and yet forever debate. "Close this door," experience cries. The 
very existence of Christ is denied because he had no good truthful biog- 
raphers. You have done much for Mr. Lincoln's memory and yet I see 
a blank I would gladly fill. I want, and intend, to have the generous 
broad and deep sympathies of the universal heart for good and noble 
Abraham. You see, it will all come right. Trust God and the People. 

What I said about Mr. Lincoln is true, and we cannot dodge it. 
Experience says : "Meet it, and modify the idea that will grow to be." 
My philosophy is to sink a counter nail and blow up my enemies 
Lincoln's future traducers and I do it for him, and the People, who 
build their philosophy of human history out of human thoughts, acts, 


and deeds. Other philosophy now is, my friend, a crime. I acknowledge 
that what I said is calculated to create a twinge of nerve. I have 
weighed results, fully, fully, and I bide my time. However, what I said 
is no more than if I had said that Mr. Lincoln was momentarily made 
crazed by laughing gas taken from a physician, not a fit ; and you will 
live to see the day you will say so. 

Mr. Lincoln was the best friend I ever had or expect ever to have, 
except my. wife and mother. I think he is the noblest and loveliest man 
since Christ so you perceive that my motives are good whatever may 
be my judgments. I know I shall have to appeal to Time. I cannot argue 
with a sacred feeling; it is deaf, dumb, blind, and holy. It must argue 
with itself. Hence, I want time. 

We exist in the midst of two civilizations one in the North and one 
in the South. The one will try and make Mr. Lincoln a perfect being, a 
supernatural man, and the other will say he is a devil ; and so he will 
travel down all time misapprehended, not understood and, pray, 
whose fault will it be? Lincoln's friends'. The middle man is needed. 
Hence I have two things in view: first, sympathy for Lincoln, and, 
secondly, solidity for his memory. Appeals will be made to my record. 
My Lincoln's life is only a record. No man can now write an artistic 
life of Lincoln. Your life sayings and doings of Lincoln will out- 
last all the lives of Lincoln written during this age. Mark that. 

I am happy to know your portrait of Mr. Lincoln by your friend 
Halpin is soon to be out. If you know me right well you will know that 
I speak the truth when I say : I hope you entire success, and I believe 
you will get it catch it. I shall, my dear sir, let me say friend, be 
happy to see your "proof sheet," and will at your special request study 
it closely and long "till it does grow." I wish all men working in my 
line and path well, in fact the whole world well, but I must say especially 
all who wish to build up for Lincoln a fame, a name, a monument that 
time will itself consecrate. I will, after having studied your proof im- 
pression sufficiently long, give you my poor opinion. You know I am 
no artist, wish nature had made me so ; it has given me a desire without 
the faculty of use. 

I am under many obligations to you for your excellent book, your 
Six Months in the White House. By the by, I do envy you, did you 
know it? I must be honest. The selections are excellent and made with 
taste. I hope, I know, you do not -father all that is said. I hope it 'Vill 


come safe to hand." If I ever can come to New York I shall call and see 
you. This I promise you most sacredly. But won't I get lost ? And if I 
do, will you, like a good friend, hunt me up? Come, promise me this as 
condition precedent. 

One other word, you pay me a high compliment in mentioning my 
analytic lecture, the one you refer to in your book, and for which I 
thank you. My fourth lecture, as Douglas once said of same event, "set 
me back." My fourth lecture is a miscellaneous one, and of necessity 
is in the telling disjointed; its incoherence lies not in the idea but the 
matter, and so far your criticism is correct. When you come to read 
L.'s biography and see him more in and about New Salem, book under 
arm, pale from excess of study, or see him running his compass for 
points, courses, distances, with an eye ever on bread, you will, I think, 
lift your criticism from the incoherency to the idea of unity that under- 
floats the lecture. Have faith and I'll move forward a little again in 
my fifth lecture, which I shall send you, if I get time to write it out and 
print it. So, good-by. I hope this will reach you Saturday night in order 
that you may rise early Sunday morning and finish it by "tea." Will 
you, my dear friend, excuse me? If you have a wife and little one keep 
them for me, and 1*11 do ditto here for you. 

Your friend, 


Springfield* Ill.> December 12, 1866. 
Mr. Hart. 
My dear Sir : 

Your kind and charming note, 'mid the incongruous notes of many 
curses, etc., dated the 10th inst . is this instant handed to me, and for 
which I thank you. I am censured by some who do not and cannot 
know what I am at. It takes a cool philosophy to bear to be misrepre- 
sented and to be misunderstood when one has in his own hands evidence, 
proofs that would instantly allay all ; and from that same censuring 
throng would come : "God bless you, you are right, go on." I think I 
can bear it coolly, calmly. Would to God the world knew what I do, and 
save me the necessity of being the man to open and explain all clear 
as the noonday sun ! Mrs. Lincoln will scold me, poor woman, without 
knowing I am her friend, determined to put her right before the world 


for all time. She too has borne her cross, and she shall have justice if I 
live. Would that I could but talk to you one hour. Mr. and Mrs. Lin- 
coln's marriage was an unfortunate one, and I say to you that what I 
know and shall tell only ennobles both that is to say, it will show that 
Mrs. L. has had cause to suffer, and be almost crazed, while Lincoln 
self-sacrificed himself rather than to be charged with dishonor. Such 
a man the world never saw and never will see again, God bless him 
so pure, so tender, so good, so honorable, so noble, so lovely, the very 
noblest and loveliest man since this orb began to spin. Mrs. Lincoln 
was shoved through her furnace, but, poor woman, she rebelled ! Lin- 
coln suffered as it were by crucifixion for forty-five or fifty years ; and 
that process caused his glory, and yet the world doesn't, it seems, want 
to know it. You have perceived that I am not a very orthodox Christian 
and yet I believe that Lincoln was God's chosen one. 

As to my lectures, I am to publish the five themselves, as analysis 
of Mr. L. The remainder of the life will be a record of the facts of L. 
his thoughts, acts, etc., etc. This was my first idea, and it remains un- 
changed. I may, however, modify my plan, scheme, or what not. Can't 
now tell. Probably I shall publish the analysis this winter, spring, or 
summer coming. I do love Lincoln and do respect Mrs. Lincoln, and yet 
I suppose there are men in the world who think, and probably say, that 
I am actuated by malice, revenge, etc. Let me say to you that Mr. 
Lincoln did tender me an office, a rich one ; but I refused it, because I 
did not want it. The last letter he ever wrote to me contains this ex- 
pression : "God bless you, says your friend A. Lincoln." And I echo 
back the same to him. Now you have another idea and yet all this must 
not make me a coward, and a liar. 

If you will promise me as a friend and gentleman that you will never 
reveal to mortal man or woman what I shall write you in reference to 
a hint in the Arnold letter, and in yours of the 10th inst . now before 
me, and being answered, I'll tell you conditioned on another fact, that 
you will burn up the letter. I have told but one other man in the world 
and made him do as I require of you. I hope you will not take this 
offensively, for nothing is intended other than what I say. 

I fear, suspicion, that I have wounded beyond heal, beyond cure, my 
good friend Chas. G. Leland. The lecture did it, I suppose, for I have 
been as kind to him as I know how to be to any man, I appreciate his 
o-enius and his character, but if such things must be, so be it. I cannot 


be a liar, I must be brave, and keep my own self-respect, or sink. I 
don't propose to do that yet. 

By the by, I have had my record of Mr. Lincoln taken to the book 
bindery. It is bound in excellent heavy leather, spring back, strongly 
done, etc. The record makes three volumes, each the size of Webster's 
dictionary on legal cap. It has cost me two years' hard labor with all 
my advantages, and they were not small. The record costs in money 
actually paid out $153. The original is at my house, and a copy of the 
same is bound, and in bank vaults beyond fire. If I should die, the record 
is safe. It explains all fully, each assertion backed by written vouchers, 
evidences of good men and women in Kentucky, Indiana, Illinois, and 
other places, men and women whom I know. I have, say, two hundred 
or more of L.'s letters, in the record, etc. Pardon me. 

Your friend, 


Springfield, EL, December 28, 1866. 
Friend Hart : 

Your kind and encouraging letter, dated the 24th inst., is received, 
and for which please accept my most sincere thanks. I have not deter- 
mined absolutely in publishing my five lectures by themselves, am 
doubtful of the propriety of such a course myself. I will walk cau- 
tiously, talk to friends, etc. I am really happy to hear that friend 
Leland is as ever. Say to him for me: "Leland, success to your new 
undertaking." I shall be very glad to hear F. W. Smith's statement 
about the case of Smith & Bros. In reference to collecting Lincoln's 
letters, speeches, state papers, etc., etc., I have really thought about 
it and suggested it to Judge Davis, who said : "I'll think about the mat- 
ter and tell you what to do." 

Mr. Lincoln is hard to get at i.e., it will take so much talk, ex- 
planation, etc., to get him properly before the world, that I almost 
despair. He's a good, great, noble man, the great unknown just now. 
He is the finest character made since the world began to spin at least 
one of the very finest. Don't think me crazy. 

Now as to what you desire. Mr. Lincoln is a sad, sad, melancholy 
man. This is so organically, or functionally, caused by conditions, 
etc. It is partly organic and partly functional caused by conditions. In 


the first place his grandmother was a halfway prostitute not a com- 
mon one, as I understand the facts. I say this is truth, for Mr. Lincoln 
told me so. Mr. Lincoln's mother was an illegitimate. This is truth, for 
Mr. L. told me so. As a matter of course Mr. L. knew this. It saddened 
his own mother, and it saddened Lincoln sadness more or less has 
been stamped on him. Again and what is worse Mrs. Lincoln, A. 
Lincoln's mother, -fell fell in Kentucky about 1805 fell when un- 
married fell afterward. Thomas Lincoln left Kentucky on that ac- 
count; and for no other as I understand the story. There can be not 
much doubt of this as I now think, and yet there is room for mistake. I 
am going to Kentucky to search this whole matter to the bottom, and 
if false I shall scare some wicked men, I assure you. I must get abso- 
lutely right myself before I dare open. Mr. Lincoln was informed of all 
this ; probably it was thrown up to him in Indiana and don't know it 
have heard so. As a matter of course in so sensitive a soul as Lincoln's 
it burned its way and left him a withered melancholy man. Good 
heavens, what a world ! Poor, patient, suffering, cross-bearing, sublime 
Lincoln ! Did not God roll him through His furnace? Take all this, and 
the Ann Rutledge scrape, condition ; and you will perceive that Lin- 
coln's work on infidelity burnt up by friends was a blast, Job-like, 
of despair. Now does not melancholy drip from the poor man? Mrs. 
Lincoln, Lincoln's wife, I think, knew much of this think Lincoln re- 
vealed it to her, and hence in part Hell, Hell. Good Lord, will the 
world have a wide, a sublime, charity for all ! Do you not see Lincoln's 
Christ-like charity, liberality, toleration, loom up and blossom above 
all? Who could have survived but Lincoln the great, good, strong, 
noble, God-loved man? This is no disgrace to Lincoln. He is the creator 
of the House of Lincoln the architect of the Lincoln fame, wo rid- wide 
and eternal. What an honor ! Democratic institutions what a Justice, 
what a Right, what a Power and Glory they are ! Now open your elo- 
quence on the power of the individual man to rise above conditions and 
of democratic institutions as guardian of fair play in the Eternal 
Right. I wish I were an inspired man, even an eloquent man, but I am 
dumb in presence of the sublimity of Right. 

Please hide this away or burn it, keep it a dead secret, I think the 
editors and devils of the Chicago Times have the bad side of these facts 
and intend to flash them on mankind when we are dead and gone. That 
paper said about eight months since : "Beware, you Lincoln men ! I'll 

Isaac N. Arnold 

Collection of 

Harry MacNeiU Bland 


Charles H. Hart 

Collection of 
Harry MacNeill Bland 

In 1860 

Courtesy of the Henry E. 
Huntington Library 


In 1888 

Collection of 
Frederick PI. Mescrve 


spoil your hero." You have now the philosophy of my drifting, my 
counter minds, etc., etc. When you hear men scolding me, please say 
to them : "Do you know what you are talking about? Have faith in the 
only man who knows what to do to hedge, dodge, explain, modify, or 
deny, etc." Excuse this. 

Your friend, 


Springfield, El, January 1%, 1867. 
Friend Hart. 
My dear Sir : 

Your kind letter, dated the 7th inst. 9 is just handed to me. I regret to 
hear of your sickness, but glad you are recovering. Quit handlicks[?] > 
go to play, and cease your wear and tear of soul. No man knows how 
to reply to what I told you except this : "It's all a lie" saving what 
Lincoln told me. I am going to Kentucky myself and look into the eyes 
of men and women, watch their features, investigate their motives, 
inquire into their characters, opportunities, veracity, etc., etc., thor- 
oughly, well, to the bottom and below the bottom, if I can go below. 
There is some mistake as to identity, or something, and 1*11 find it out 
and expose those engaged in it. I am decided on this, cost what it may 
even life. I feel that there is a wrong somewhere, but can't tell you now. 
The Chicago Times has got what I tell you and has said : "Beware how 
you Lincoln worshipers blow your man. We'll sink him." This is true. 
I never tell you anything that is not ditto. I hated to say what I did of 
Holland, but he treated me so shabbily that I couldn't help it. I am 
"cussed" a good deal by men, little things, that can't understand me, 
and prefer that to opening to the world just now my plans. I am the 
only man in the world who knows how to defend Lincoln and yet I am 
"cussed" by those who are his friends. I can bear it all and look to 
time. So far as I am concerned I don't care how Lincoln came into the 
world ; the lower he was created, the higher and grander looking at 
all things to me he is. I am a broad, liberal, tolerant man. God bless 
Abraham anyhow. 

When I spoke of making these revelations to the world I did not in- 
tend to tell what I write you, only a part of it in very indirect language, 
by hints, saying that some of the near and dear relatives of L. so 


acted as to crush the soul of Abraham. This was all. I intended boldly 
to deny all insinuations not told me by Lincoln, not saying or hinting 
where I got the information. I will get it all right, so that I can swear 
to it and then expose all concerned. Have faith. . . . 

Your f riend, 


Mrs. Catherine H. Dale is the author of the letter you speak about. 
I did not see it till published should rather she had said nothing, let- 
ting time make my defense. However, it is all substantially true and 

Spring-field, 111., March 2, 1867. 
Mr. Hart. 
My dear Sir : 

. . . You state that many papers are speaking hard of me. So be 
it. What they do say, good or evil, does not move me in the least. They 
do not know me, my plans, my motives, etc., and hence all they do say is 
foolish, or shrewd guesses. If I had all such men in a pen, I could point 
out to you certain brand marks such as "hero worshiper," "orthodox 
Christian," "grumblers," "jealousy," etc. What have I done but tell 
the truth? Why speak hard words of him who loves and tells the truth 
fearlessly? If truth disturbs our conception of things, falsehood is 
preferable when it confirms the conception. Do such whiners and com- 
plainers expect to stop the genius of investigation in the race of man? 
Folly ! Every important fact of Mr. L. shall be known, come what will. 
I, my friend, can afford to be misunderstood and abused, have expected 
it, and do now expect it. No true man ever lived that was not abused. 
Why should I hope to escape? Hope is folly to me in this matter. I feel 
this way I tell the truth, love all men, have in my own hands unim- 
peached and overwhelming evidence of all I shall say or utter. I shall 
do no man any harm, all men justice, the living and the dead. I shall 
have truth on my side, justice, and a good conscience. So "let 9 em rant." 
My records of Mr. Lincoln shall go down the files of time, if I have to 
send them to England, Russia, unless confiscated by false men and 
burned before landing, etc. If the people are misled it shall not come 
from me, nor my side of the house. I did address someone in Philadel- 


phia a hasty private note, etc., on the Lincoln and Douglas debates, 
did speak the truth, as I know it to exist. 

The letter from this city to the New York Tribune some time since 
was written by a Mr. Townsend of the Tribune office, as I understand. 
The gentleman lectured here, and suppose he wrote the letter don't 
know it. People must be hard run "to run up against" an anonymous 
letter! The letter contains a sentence which surprises you. Mr. Lin- 
coln's own mother was a woman of very strong mind ; it was not only 
strong but it was quick. She was a child of some high blood rake in 
Virginia, not from a common man. When Lincoln spoke to me as he 
did, he had reference to his mother's mind, nothing else, and it was thus 
I told it. Letter-writers are not particular, catch an idea by halves 
and then open. It is a fact that Nancy Hanks, Lincoln's mother, was a 
superior woman in mind. There is no doubt of this, and it was of that 
phase of Mrs. Lincoln that her son spoke to me ; and the evidence before 
me is overwhelming on that special phase. As to morals, that is another 

Arnold's book is out ; have not read it, and therefore can't give you 
an opinion of it ; wish it was good, wish it well, etc. I wish there were a 
hundred lives of Mr. Lincoln, each excellent, and looking out of dif- 
ferent eyes, etc. 

Hope you are well before this running, rambling and tedious, as well 
as uninteresting letter reaches you. 

Your friend, 
W, H. 

Springfield, III., December 18, 1867. 
Friend Lamon: 

Today I send you my three lectures. None was ever published, only 
stenographed in part by friends. The one on Lincoln's patriotism, etc., 
was never in any part published or stenographed, so is new to you. I 
send other things as promised, more too than promised. Today I send 
two letters of Lincoln which I forgot to send in the other bundle. Pub- 
lish them in your biography. The "Lincoln Shields duel" will now 
after reading what I send you be plain and clear. Give it fully. Mon- 
day I will send you some briefs of Mr. Lincoln on some important suits 


in the Supreme Court and Sangamon Circuit Court. They are good. No 
legal speeches ever made by Mr. Lincoln were ever published that I 
now recollect of ; will send if I find out any in my scribbles through 
old musty papers, speeches, and records ; will send you everything I 
think worthy, etc. With the papers sent today are two little memoran- 
dum books. Hold them secret and, secondly, private except to you 
and "corps" of literary friends. The same with much of the records. Be 
careful and judicious in all things. I hold myself responsible to you 
for the truthfulness of my record to the extent that the copies are true, 
faithful and genuine, made out from the originals. You judge among 
the conflict of things who tells the truth ; I do not guarantee, nor say, 
nor insist, that every man or woman in that record tells the truth. 
Reconcile all if you can. Follow your own good judgments. 

Your friend, 


Springfield, III., November 87, 1868. 
Friend Hart : 

I wish to ask of you a favor, and it is this : I want to borrow, say, 
$8000 on five years' time, interest payable annually, or semi- annually 
if it must be so. I will secure the money by mortgage on three hundred 
acres of land, free from all incumbrances, land worth per acre $50 or 
$75, lies five miles from this city and within two miles of the Chicago 
Alton etc. R.R. I can get money here in short time but it don't do me 
any good. See for me some of your monied men, institutions, trustees, 
guardians, etc., and ascertain if the money can be had. I am worth 
$50,000, am farming, raising stock, planting orchards, etc., etc. 
Please assist me. 

Your friend, 


Section Two 

Springfield, III, February 17, 1869. 
Ward H. Lamon. 
My dear Sir : 

When you spoke to me about my records facts and manuscripts of 
Mr. Lincoln I was not prepared to speak. In fact was taken aback. 
However, I am glad that I could not then speak, because I do not 
think you know the amount, value, and importance of the records, 
facts, etc., of Mr. Lincoln's life, got, collected, and transcribed by me* 
I have been about three years in collecting, comparing, and analyzing 
the facts of Mr. L.'s life. I have paid for the facts on visits, trips, etc., 
in Illinois and Indiana and in various counties of both States more than 
a thousand dollars. The facts and opinions, statements, etc., in refer- 
ence to Mr. Lincoln have been got from gentlemen and ladies of in- 
dubitable veracity in Kentucky, Indiana, and Illinois, not omitting 
Virginia. My records, facts, etc., are broad, sweeping, and critical, 
looking at good sides and bad ones perfect sides and imperfect 
ones. I took facts, not fancies. Took truth as my guide, not falsehoods 
as suggested by hero worshipers or hero haters. I have got the un- 
doubted facts of his boyhood his infancy included have got his 
manhood history as it was acted by Mr. Lincoln. I had advantages 
over all other men in knowing the facts of Mr. L.'s life knew where 
to go, whom to see, what to get out of each woman and njan, and what 
strings to pull. I have got Mr. Lincoln's love letters written to a lady 
now living in Missouri, written soon after the death of the loved Ann 
Rutledge. I think, in fact I know, that my records, facts, manuscripts, 
etc., of Mr. Lincoln are the most perfect on record. He who writes a 
biography of Mr. Lincoln from my facts writes the only true life of 
the good and great man that can by any possibility be written now or 
in the future. There is a fortune in the records, etc., when put in the 
shape of a biography. I keep the originals at my own private house 
under lock and key. I keep copies put up in bound volumes in the First 
National Bank for safety. I have three large bound volumes, besides 
other. matter, probably enough to make another smaller volume, say 
one-half or one-third the size of the larger ones. I have written some 



four lectures on Mr. Lincoln ; some went to Europe, etc., though never 
fully published, simply stenographed in part; have various notes, 
memoranda, etc., including some pictures of the customs, habits, etc., 
of the West, i.e., pen sketches of our people and customs, habits, etc. 
All these are at your disposal, use, etc., if you and I can come to some 
conclusions as to terms, etc. I will sell out to you, agreeing to write 
nothing about Mr. Lincoln for ten years, probably reserving a right 
to deliver a lecture or two on Mr. Lincoln to our own people here, not 
elsewhere. Ward, there is fame in this, there is money too, my good 

Though this letter is private, you may show it to whom you please, 
nothing further, remember. I shall write to you again, am now busy in 

Your friend, 


Springfield, III, February 84, 1869. 
Mr. Hart. 

My dear Friend : 

Your very kind letter, dated the 18th inst., is at hand, and for which 
please accept my thanks. . . . Some few days since a gentleman from 
Washington came into my office and wished to purchase my manu- 
scripts, notes, memoranda, and facts in relation to Lincoln's life, the 
contemplated one. I have been gathering facts, etc., for three years ; 
have spent about $1800 in traveling to Indiana, parts of Illinois, etc., 
gathering up the facts ; and I think I may say to you that no man 
can write a lasting life, a good standard biography of President Lin- 
coln without my memoranda, etc. As you are aware, I had, fortunately, 
superior advantages over most men in knowing facts and where to go, 
and to whom to go, etc. Now what I wish is this give me your opinion, 
after consulting friends, bookmakers, and sellers among others, as to 
the value of the memoranda ; what a man ought to pay for them or the 
use of them. Fame and money are the rewards of him who writes a 
standard biography of President Lincoln. 

I may not sell, may finish the life myself, can't tell. 

As to a letter from President Lincoln to me or to others, I fear [it] 


is out of my power to give. I have something which is more sacred. It is 
his boyhood copybook, arithmetical sum book, etc., the leaves of which 
I will distribute to my rather Mr. Lincoln's friends as soon as I get 
through with the book. Will never forget you. Excuse. 

Your friend, 


Springfield, III, February %h 1869. 
Friend Lamon : 

Judge Logan has just handed to me your letter in which you make 
certain requests, etc. I shall answer it in full as soon as I get time. You 
may use such parts of my lectures in your book as you please, giving 
me credit, etc., if you wish. I think I said so to you verbally, and I stick 
to what I say. I have no confidence in Dennis Hanks, Bill Green, and 
some others. They may be correct or may not. The other Hanks 
John I believe in, think him a good man and a truthful one, but does 
not always know. He is interested in covering up the general lechery 
of the Hanks and Lincoln family. Mr. Lincoln told me himself that his 
mother was a bastard, a child of a Virginia nabob. Mr. Lincoln's 
mother was a Hanks. . . . 

I have no promises to anyone but to Miss Owens you can give her 
maiden name, though not the married name. As to Bateman, he says I 
must not publish anything he said. I will send you a letter on Lincoln's 
religion in a day or so. ... 

Your publisher is well well very anxious for something that 
will do him, nor you, any good. I have in my opinion sent you all that 
can do you any good and more than I thought I ever should ; still, I will 
send you all the original papers and you can pick out and scan them 
for yourself. 

I withdrew a letter from the Reverend Mr. Conger because there was 
a mistake in it. Lincoln's letter reads "our" and I put it "one God" by 
mistake and hence withdrew the letter. 

Your friend, 


Green is not a liar, but a blow, a "hifalutin" exaggerator, etc., 
good clever fellow for all that. 


Springfield, III., February 26, 1869. 
Friend Lamon. 
My dear Sir : 

Your letter, dated the 23d inst., is this moment handed to me. There 
is one expression in your letter which I wish to correct, and it is this : 
I have no biography as yet of Mr. Lincoln, only sketches, manuscripts, 
lectures, facts, opinions, etc. I wish to correct your idea at the start 
that I have a biography. I have written some few things for my own 
pleasure, and the pleasure of my friends, no connected history. My 
record, manuscripts, facts, etc., come in in their proper place, order, 
and time. For instance the Virginia facts come first in the record, then 
the Kentucky facts, then the Indiana facts, then the New Salem facts, 
and then the Springfield facts the Illinois facts generally. As I had 
the facts gathered, I had a clerk to transcribe them in order in a bound 
volume written on our clerk's paper say the record is between three 
and four reams of paper, large size. The biographer has all the facts 
before him in order in the record before him. All he has to do is to take 
my records and open them and read, know, analyze, and recombine the 
facts, etc., etc., and write. That is all he has to do. I think there is 
perfect order and arrangement. Possibly, probably, I had better say 
that some few facts, papers, are out of order ; few, very few if any is 
out of order, I may say. I'll make the world pay for these records some 
time. They are the most perfect of any living or any dead man prob- 
ably Johnson's biography by Boswell excepted. Since you have men- 
tioned this subject to me I ought to say to you as a friend that I had 
a proposition once to buy my records, have the same proposition now 
before me. This much I thought due you and I so state it. If you do not 
buy, I probably shall finish my biography in a year or so, can do it, 
wish to do it. Lamon, strange as it may appear to you, let me say : I 
do not covet fame or wealth ! Hence I am in no hurry to complete the 
biography. I need kicking, scolding, "cussing," etc., in order to make 
me trot along briskly with head up and tail up, gaily snorting along 
the great road of life. I should like to see your biography when finished, 
like to read 'em very much. I guess your facts of Mr. Lincoln since 1860 
are full and complete. My facts of Mr. Lincoln from the womb to land- 
ing at Washington, "as the gal says," is more so. Lamon, I should pre- 
fer to sell out horse, foot, etc., than to do otherwise. I want money, 
money ; still, if you have no money, you can have without money on time 


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pr- A^ 



making me safe, etc., etc., and paying down some few dimes, so that I 
can pay my debts. Am in court writing under calls from clients, amidst 
Edwards's speech before the jury, on a criminal case. How he howls 
morals and religion bah ! 

Your friend, 


Springfield, III, March 17, 1869. 
Friend Lamon. 
My dear Sir : 

After consulting with friends in New York, Philadelphia, and at 
home, I have come to the conclusion to make you an offer ; it is this : 
I will take $4000 for my facts, memoranda, manuscripts, etc., that is 
to say, their use till you finish your biography. Give me $2000 down and 
secure the other $2000 in one and two years, drawing 10$ per annum 
from date till period. I worked three years and hard work at that 
lost time in going to Indiana and other places, spent about $1800, 
and lost my office business during the lost time, etc., hired a copyist to 
record what I gathered, paid bookbinders to bind the volumes, etc. I 
may say to you that the records will be worth $10,000 to you or any 
man who writes Mr. Lincoln's biography. If you conclude to take 
them, you may publish to the world that you have purchased the use 
of my records of the great President. This will give you force, give 
your biography value, etc., etc. Again, I want it understood that no 
word is to be erased, changed, no leaf torn, no mutilations, no altera- 
tions, interlineations, etc., of the records want them returned to me 
when you are done with them in the exact order and condition you re- 
ceived them, wear and tear in their careful use only excepted. They 
shall stand as your witness to the end of time. May I say to you that, 
since I have been talking, etc., advising, etc., about this business, 
others will take the records if you do not want them? 

Your friend, 


Springfield, III, September 17, 1869. 

I have this day sold to W. H. Lamon of Washington, D.C., my Lin- 
coln records in three volumes for the consideration of four thousand 


dollars cash in hand paid. He is now the sole owner and possessor 
of said records and is empowered and authorized by me to sell, pub- 
lish, use, or dispose of said records as he wishes or will. Lamon prom- 
ises to use discretion and good judgment as to what shall be published, 
sold, or made public at the present time. 


Springfield, III., February 12, 1870. 
Friend Hart : 

Your note, dated the 8th inst., is this instant handed to me, and in 
answer to your questions let me say : Mr. J.T. Stuart was Mr. Lincoln's 
first partner "Stuart & Lincoln." This partnership began in the 
summer of 1837 and lasted about two years. The next firm of which 
Mr. Lincoln was a partner was "Logan & Lincoln." Hon. S. T. Logan 
was Mr. Lincoln's second partner. This partnership began about 1840 
and ended about 1843. The third firm of which Mr. Lincoln was one 
was "Lincoln & Herndon." This firm began in 1844 and ended the day 
Mr. Lincoln died. I am Mr. Lincoln's third partner. Mr. Lincoln had 
no other partners than the above to my knowledge. 

Your friend, 


Springfield, III, February 25, 1870. 
Friend Lamon : 

I have always been averse to the use of my evidence in the world of 
matter or of man, hate to see my name stuck up ... in any way, in- 
stinctively shrink from publicity, notice, or flattery. But as you de- 
mand my information, I shall give you from time to time some facts, 
some information, I sent you some days since more at the request of 
Mrs. Armstrong' than of myself a short account of what I had to say 
on Lincoln's "house divided against itself" speech, should not have sent 
it for the same reason that I have refused, failed to say more, write 
more to you, namely, I do not wish to be considered a blow, boast, or 
fool who wishes to be noticed, etc., etc. In answer to your various 
queries, let me say : First, you say some of my notes are interpolated, 
etc. Sometimes I did this for various reasons. I had some of the papers 


with me in Indiana and thought I might lose them, and hence I stated 
things to avoid the consequence of the loss, that is, I didn't want people 
to know everything, nor the exact truth at all times. Secondly, some- 
times, as it is with all men, I believed one way and, when I heard further 
evidence, 'believed another way. In the matter of Lincoln's legitimacy, 
at one time I thought the world lied in him when it stated that he was a 
bastard. On further investigation, I now and have for years believed 
him the son of Enloe. My opinions are formed from the evidence before 
you, and in a thousand other things, some of which I heard from Lin- 
coln, others are inferences springing from his acts, from what he said, 
and from what he didn't say. In the first place, Lincoln himself told me 
that his mother was a bastard, that she was an intellectual woman, a 
heroic woman, that his mind he got from his mother, etc. This was 
told me about 1852, three miles west of this city on our way to court 
in Petersburg, Menard County, and State of Illinois ; he told me about 
Dennis Hanks's bastardy. He told me that his relations were lascivious, 
lecherous, not to be trusted. Again, it is a fact that Thomas Lincoln 
had children when in Kentucky, and when he went to Indiana he had 
none, ceased to have any. If you remember, Mr. Thomas Lincoln 
courted his second wife when a girl, that she rejected him, that she sub- 
sequently married another man, that Thomas Lincoln married both 
Lincoln's mother and Lincoln's step mother by their husbands had 
children that Lincoln's second wife was prolific when her husband 
lived, that in the prime of life she married Thomas Lincoln and ceased 
suddenly to be prolific when she was so with her first husband. It is true 
that Thomas Lincoln had a fight with Enloe, as said, because he caught 
Enloe with his wife. It is true that Lincoln left Kentucky and why, I 
was informed, to take her away from Enloe and general surrounding 
bad influences. I may not have recorded this, but I have been told so and 
it looks to me to be proven forever true. It is true that Lincoln was in- 
capable of getting a child ; because he had the mumps, etc. Lincoln was 
in Indiana in 1844, 1 think your records will tell you when and that 
he put up no tombstone to his mother's grave ; and I forget whether 
he ever went to see her grave. Your records will state the truth exactly. 
For these reasons and for others floating in my mind I am convinced 
that the weight of evidence is that Mr. Lincoln was an illegitimate. The 
evidence is not conclusive, but men have been hung on less evidence. 
From what Lincoln has casually and indirectly said, I was convinced 


that his illegitimacy was thrown up to him when a boy. I think he was 
told of the fight between his father and Enloe, and the cause of it. I got 
this as I remember it in casual conversations in Indiana. I did not re- 
duce everything to writing, not at that time deeming it of importance. 
Now I know better. I left out nothing important to the understanding 
of Lincoln, standing by himself. That is all right. As to Mr. Lincoln's 
melancholy, it is partly organic and partly historic, Mr. Lincoln was 
of a low physical organization, good digestion, slow circulation, slow 
functions, blood not hot, not impulsive, cold flesh, liver had no action, 
bowels slow, sometimes feverish, sometimes cold, had not a strong life 
but a tenacious one, would have lived a hundred years, had no haste, 
no impulses, had no wear and tear of cellular tissue, muscle, or nerve. 
He took life easy, had no haste, no spontaneous emotion, no impulse, 
was sympathetic and emotional in presence of the object. I know Lin- 
coln better than I know myself. He was so good and so odd a man, how 
in the hell could I help study him ! Mr. Lincoln's poverty, a curse of his 
origin, the origin and chastity of his near and dear relations, his fa- 
ther's cold and inhuman treatment of him sometimes, the death of Ann 
Rutledge, his intense ambition, and society not energetically recog- 
nizing his greatness, etc., etc., intensified his organic melancholy. 

One word here about his intense popularity in Menard County in 
1834. He was popular in that county, because for a local reason. He 
advocated a canal from the Sangamon River some few miles below 
Petersburg down the bluffs being lower there than near the Illinois 
River, to Beardstown thus putting New Salem and Beardstown in 
nearer contact. See his letter copied in your records. This gave Lincoln 
a popularity not otherwise got. I have no time to be more particular, 
can't write a history. When I am wrong, your records will correct me. 
I appeal to them, putting my own remembrance of things alongside, 

As to Mr. Lincoln's religious views, he was in short an infidel, was a 
universalist, was a Unitarian, a theist. He did not believe that Jesus was 
God nor the son of God, etc., was a fatalist, denied the freedom of the 
will, wrote a book in 1834 or 5 just after the death of Ann Rutledge, 
as I remember the facts as to time. He then became more melancholy, a 
little crazed, etc.; [he] was always skeptical, read Volney in New 
Salem and other books. Samuel Hill of Menard was the man who 
burned up Lincoln's little infidel book. Lincoln told me a thousand times 
that he did not believe that the Bible, etc., were revelations of God, as 


the Christian world contends, etc. Will send you a printed letter soon 
on this subject. You have Mr. Hill's statement as well as Bale's, which 
see. See A. Y. Ellis and J. H. Matheny's testimony in your possession. 
The points that Mr. Lincoln tried to demonstrate are, first, that the 
Bible was not God's revelations ; and, secondly, that Jesus was not the 
son of God. I assert this on my own knowledge and on my own veracity, 
honor, or what not. Your own father-in-law, Mr. J. T. Stuart, James 
H. Matheny, etc., etc., will tell you the truth. I say they will confirm 
what I say, with this exception : they will all make it blacker than I re- 
member it. Joshua F. Speed of Louisville, I think, will tell you the same 
thing. I think the book of Lincoln was written in 1834 or 5> just after 
the death of Ann Rutledge I know it was after that sad event. 

I never completed my fifth lecture, was and am too lazy ; the notes 
of it, etc., now lie in my drawer. If you discover any grammatical er- 
rors, etc., in my lectures which you wish to quote, correct them, as I 
paid no close attention to the papers when I delivered them, was hur- 
ried when I penned them. A lawyer can't scarcely snatch time to eat, as 
you well know. The wonder is that I could get time to think about any- 
thing except whisky. You can have my draft, etc., etc., of the fifth 
Lincoln lecture. You will find much loose evidence in the records as to 
Mr. Lincoln's boyhood and life. You must weigh the evidence as a law- 
yer does. It has been weighed by me and you can have the benefit of it 
if you will ask me for it, putting your questions sharp and close, and 

I cannot frame a genealogical tree of the Lincoln family for three 
generations, other than you find in your records. 

What I stated to Arnold was and is true. Mr. Lincoln loved Ann 
Rutledge to his death, no mistake. He next courted Miss Owens, and 
next' Mary Todd, and while so doing he lit on Miss Edwards's face. 
Lincoln never loved, i.e., dearly loved, his "Mary" he was engaged to 
her when Miss Edwards ran across his path. His vow to Ann Rut- 
ledge's love and death, his promise to his Mary and their engagement, 
and Miss Edwards flitting across the path, etc., made Lincoln crazy 
the second time see Judge Logan's (in a little book I last sent you), 
see Stuart's, Miss Edwards's, and other testimony in your records. 
You must read over and over again the records. If anything is proved, 
what I say to Arnold is proved. I know many if not all the facts my- 
self. Lincoln, Speed, and I slept together for two or three years, i.e;, 


slept in the same home, I being Speed's clerk ; and Lincoln sleeping 
with Speed. I have heard Lincoln talk about the matter, and from what 
I know and from what I have been told by others in whom I have im- 
plicit confidence and trust, I say, if what I told Arnold is not proved, 
nothing can be proved. You may reduce the elements of causation 
this way : say that Lincoln's honor was pledged to Miss Todd, that 
he saw and loved another woman, Miss Edwards, and that he desired to 
break away from Miss Todd and to join Miss Edwards, and that the 
struggle caused the second crazed spells, and yet I know that the 
Ann Rutledge element entered as strong as any element. His vow to 
her or her memory, etc., was as strong as his honor at any other time. 
Do you see? Read over your records again and again. It will save you 
much trouble and me too. The two suppositions of which you speak 
are not [undeciphered]. Co-existing, do co-exist nevertheless. The sec- 
ond insanity springs from his old love of Ann Rutledge. His engage- 
ments with his "sweet Mary," and his determination to break that en- 
gagement off, and to marry Miss Edwards if he could, I repeat, was the 
cause of his second insanity. These facts do co-exist and were the sole 
cause of his second insanity. I hate to differ from you, but I can't 
avoid it, nor see the difficulty you do. Excuse me. Read your records 
closely again and again. 

The stars in Judge Davis's evidence were put there by my clerk, 
who could not read my handwriting, and so was left to fill up, which I 
forgot to do. That is all of that and no more nor no less. 

In the matter of the genealogy, etc., character, etc., chastity, etc., 
of the Hanks-Lincoln-Sparrow family, I am satisfied that John Hanks, 
nor Dennis Hanks, know much about it upon the same principle that 
I don't know anything of my relations' chastity, etc., because it is kept 
a secret from me. I am the last man in the world that knows the bad 
phases of my relations. They may play with their hats, and I am the 
last man in the world to know it. Again, John and Dennis Hanks were 
very young when they left Kentucky and Indiana especially. John 
Hanks would state the exact truth if he knew it. Dennis Hanks would 
go a mile out of his way to lie. Bill Green is a good man but a blow 
an exaggerator. In his dealings, etc., he is called "Slippery Bitt." All 
this is true and yet I like the man. I do not now remember anyone whom 
I would necessarily suspect, and yet I did watch all, criticized all, 


weighed all, which I want you to do toward me. Simply give me a fair 
chance to put myself right on the record. 

The Sparrows and Hankses did immigrate into Kentucky together 
from Virginia, but the Sparrows did not come to Indiana, except on a 
visit, if that much Dennis Hanks to the contrary notwithstanding. 
I think he says that the Sparrows came to Indiana. The Sparrows may 
have come from England, but God knows wherefrom not John nor 
Dennis Hanks. I doubt the whole biographical genealogy of the Liri- 
coln family, etc. The Sparrows did come from Virginia to Kentucky. 

I have no fuller copy of the Book of Chronicles than you have got 
in your record. It is not complete, but I did the best I could to get it 

As to the Lincoln poem on suicide I found out from Speed that it 
was written 1838, and I hunted up the Journal and found where the 
poem was, what day published, etc., etc., but someone had cut it out 
supposed to be Lincoln. I could never find another copy, and so there 
is an end of that. 

The Trailor case is : a man was supposed to be murdered here ; 
two men, the Trailors, swore they saw the man killed were parties 
to it, implicated Archibald Trailor, their brother, gave their evidences 
in open court, told when it was done, when and how, where body carried 
and thrown in a mill pond, went there, found buggy tracks, found hair. 
The two Trailors were found with the murdered man's money, some of 
it. To be short, the murdered man came to light, was living, had a crazy 
fit, ran off, was heard from, brought to this city, saved Arch Trailer's 
neck. There were strong corroborating circumstances that the man 
was murdered, etc. Lincoln worked out the facts, testimony, etc., etc., 
and sent it to Quincy in 1856, 1 think, to a man by the name of Jonas, a 
lawyer in Quincy who said he wanted it to publish, etc., which, as I 
remember, was done. Sent several times to Quincy to get it but could 
never get it. If I ever go to Quincy, I'll get if I can. 

I guess no one remembers the exact language of the Thomas castiga- 
tion. Logan can give you the substance. Write to him, and he'll send 
to you. 

I do not remember the Dunlap temperance story just now as you put 
it. Copy it and send it to me and I'll answer. Don't remember any 
particular thing about the Wright trial spoken of by Grigsby as 


you put it. I remember the Webber story, remember the Wright trial ; 
copy and send to me and let me see what you mean. I'll answer. I'll get 
Bill Jayne's statement in full and send to you. As to Lincoln's honesty, 
I doubt whether anyone knows anything against it. I guess it was a 
misunderstanding. I know Lincoln was intensely honest, have seen him 
tried so often and always true, that / would rather doubt any man's 
. . . than to doubt Lincoln's honesty. This is my own opinion. 

As to Bateman's sayings about Lincoln's religion, it is all bosh. I'll 
send you a printed letter soon on that subject. Holland's account of 
Lincoln's religion was partly taken from Bateman. I don't think that 
Bateman told all that Holland says that Bateman says, etc. Wait 
patiently, and I'll send, etc. 

Lincoln told me whom he had written to on the subject of his Cabinet, 
but forget the names. As I remembered, two lived in the North and 
two in the South. Don't remember the others, etc. I'll think this over 
and send you what I recollect bad memory on names. . . . 

From the facts before me Mr. Lincoln as early as 1830 began to 
dream of a destiny. I think it grew and developed and bloomed into 
beauty, etc., in the year 1840 exactly. Mr. Lincoln in that year was 
appointed general elector for this State. Mr. Lincoln told me that his 
ideas of something burst in him in 1840. He was flattered in 1833, 4, 
and 5 by Offutt and others in New Salem see your records and made 
to believe that he would be a great man and he dreamed of it then, as he 
told me always delicately and indirectly. My remembrance is that 
it was the year 1840 when he commenced to have a State reputation. 
This was the exact time that his convictions developed into a religious 
fervor. He always had a conviction more or less of ruin. This sprang 
from his physical organization, as I think, and yet it grew in him all 
his life so he told me, often spoke of it to me in my office and on the 
circuit when we traveled together. 

I am not limited in my information further than Miss Owens and 
Bateman, who put me on honor and under privacy. Bateman lied to 
Holland as Holland lies in his biography of Lincoln. You know this as 
well as I do. If Lincoln were living he would think that Bateman did 
him more injustice than the living and the dead combined. He scorned 
the idea that God scorned, even by a shadow, a lovely daughter of His 

You are at perfect liberty to use any and all parts of my lectures or 


letters in your biography of Lincoln that suit you only excepting 
some of my private notes to you. Try and not hurt the feelings of any- 
one, if you please, and in using my lectures and letters give me credit, 
if you wish ; and otherwise if you wish. Suit yourself on that question. 

I have now answered in a running and rambling way all your ques- 
tions, and as I am tired out I'll say no more. Will write you again. Do 
you think you and Black and friends can translate this? I have not 
corrected it and wouldn't for ten dollars and wouldn't write it for 
$50. You know I am spontaneous, quick, off-handed, right and ready, 
and hate a quill hate the mechanics of "the pen, like hell so I do.** 
Correct errors. Give Reverend Black my best respects, etc. 

Your friend, 


Had you better come out to Illinois, bringing your records and mak- 
ing notes, questions, etc., in writing before starting? I hate to write 
so terrible. Possibly I might come to Washington in May. Keep all my 
letters, etc. 


. . . See Holland's life of Lincoln, pages 236-40 all false. 

Springfield, IE., March 6, 1870, 
Friend Lamon : 

I have sent you several things, letters, etc., which may be of more or 
less value to you. I hope they may assist you some in your biography 
of Lincoln. As to Lincoln's legitimacy, I do not wish you to understand 
that I assert that he was illegitimate. What I mean to say is this : It is 
my opinion that the weight of the evidence tends, strongly tends, to 
prove that he was an illegitimate. That preponderance of evidence, as 
I think, has led my mind to the affirmative. It appears from your rec- 
ords that one Haycraft, clerk of the circuit court of Hardin County 
(in Elizabeth) , Kentucky, wrote to Mr. Lincoln about his mother, evi- 
dently to find out some facts. Mr. Lincoln, I say, as appears from your 
records, answered the letter, saying in substance that "you are mis- 
taken in my mother" Mr. Lincoln does not state wherein the man was 
mistaken, gives no light. I regret that Lincoln did not state wherein the 
man was mistaken. Prentice got up some evidence on this question in 
1860, and the rumor thereof reached here, and I was told all the par- 


ticulars as early as 1861 or 1862 as I now recollect. Human memory is 
uncertain and it is possible that somewhat of my ideas and opinions is 
made up of rumor and rumor alone. I state this to you to put you on 
your guard as to what I say, and what all men say. Much of the matter 
is ten years old, and watch all men, weigh well what is said, search for 
opportunities, casts of mind, education, and veracities. Follow no man 
simply because he says so and so. Follow your records, sharply criticiz- 
ing as you go. When I was around taking evidence soon after and long 
after Mr. Lincoln's death, much, much was told me which I did not 
reduce to writing, but which, much of which, floats about in my mem- 
ory. Time may have modified, altered, or changed what was told me. I 
rejected much which was told me, because what was told me was con- 
trary to what I knew, contrary to my records, and contrary to nature ; 
still, I now wish I had written it out to show the follies, prejudices, 
errors, and falsehoods, the foundations of all human history. 

I used to believe in the substantial history of the world, to believe in 
the truthfulness of biography, but since I knew Lincoln and read and 
hear the multitudinous follies, prejudices, errors, falsehoods, I doubt 
all, nay, reject all. I am sorry for this, but I can't help it. When I was 
a student of history, as well as of biography, I only doubted slightly 
doubted. I then made a resolve that I would, if ever opportunity of- 
fered, write out a truthful history or biography of the man, mental, 
moral, religious, etc., analytically, as well as otherwise, so that the 
reader would have a full view of the whole subject, thus enabling the 
student and reader to judge more correctly than if he only saw a part 
of the subject. This idea grew on me as I got older and doubted more 
the older I grew. To fulfill this original idea fully and completely, as I 
had now a good man, a good subject with fair opportunities, I deter- 
mined to get up a complete record of Lincoln, so far as it was in my 
power to do. I threw off, so far as I could, all preconceived opinions 
and prejudices, all friendships or enmities, everything that clouded 
my vision. I was determined, at one time, to write out Mr. Lincoln's 
history biography rather cost me what it would: loss of money, 
loss of friendship, or loss of everything but honor. Pecuniary circum- 
stances over which I had no control compelled me to sell my records to 
you. When I was getting up the records, people tried to induce me to 
state only what Mr. Lincoln was and not what he was not. I kept on 
in pursuit of my original idea, determined to give the world light, if I 


could. I think that to state only what a man was only presents half the 
man, and to get the whole it was necessary to state what Tie was not. 
The first part of this proposition showing what he did and why he did 
it, and the second showing what he did not and the reasons why. I 
thought that all the man, his positive side and his negative side, should 
be known. Hence the records which you have are as they are both 
sides fully represented, as I think. I am satisfied that I was correct, 
and yet correct, still correct, in other words. 

Mr. Lincoln was my good friend, well tried and true. I was and am 
his friend. While this is true, I was under an obligation to be true to 
the world of readers living and to live during all coming time as 
long as Lincoln's memory lived in this world. Lincoln rose over so many 
disadvantages that he seems to me a hero, having lived a grand good 
life. Such a life shoots faith and hope deep into the souls of the young 
aspiring men of this land. Seeing Lincoln, as I see him, he is a grand 
character. I see him in my mind from his cradle to his grave, and I say 
Lincoln's life seems a grand march over the forces and resistances of 
nature and man. Do not think me a hero worshiper. I know so much of 
Lincoln's trials and troubles and difficulties that I see and feel them all 
as my own so closely do they touch me and my good dead friend. 

Now in writing your biography, I wish to say one word more, and 
it is this : You state in one of your letters to me that you suppose that 
I am under obligations of secrecy to many persons. To a certain extent 
I am, as I suppose. I wrote you and gave you the names of such persons 
as I had pledged a secrecy. I do not remember others just now. Possibly 
Leonard Swett says something in his evidence about this secrecy. 
Probably it was in his letter coming with his evidence. Probably I am 
under obligations to others. Do I understand you as saying that in 
your biography of Lincoln you intended to use the names of all persons 
giving this or that particular or general information? For instance, 
Mrs. Lincoln, Miss Edwards, and others gave me information. Do you 
intend to give up their names as authorities of this or that assertion? 
If this is your plan, I think it is wrong. Assert it somewhat this way : 
From the evidence before me, this seems to be true. Or : it is true by my 
records, Herndon's records, or in any way so as to avoid giving the 
names of men and women for every assertion. You are at perfect liberty 
to give up my i*ame and quote me as often as you see proper. I think 
I state nothing but what is true, at least, nothing that I do not believe 


to be true. If I err it is in favor of Lincoln as I verily believe, be- 
cause I am prejudiced a little in his favor. In fact I was accused of 
being partial toward Mr. Lincoln when I promised in my lectures or 
publicly that I would strip myself of all prejudice. I was likewise said 
by Mr. Lincoln's friends mere blind hero worshipers to be preju- 
diced against him. I felt then that I was correct, quite correct ; and feel 
so yet. Would it not be better, friend Lamon, not to refer to any name 
except such as you get the absolute consent of? Write, say, to Stuart, 
Swett, Speed, and all other men and women, and ask them if their 
names may not be used as authority. 

Again, would it not do to say in your Preface or Introduction or 
what not, to state that you have records, etc., and if any men doubt, if 
any women doubt, let them come to you and convince themselves of the 
fact and truthfulness of what you say ? I am afraid that the giving up 
names will blow this social American world wide open. What say you? 
What think you? Be cautious, be wisely discreet, be prudent and 
shrewd. Let us create no ill feeling or severe criticism from a morbid 
press eager to say something. 

If you will send me the proof sheets of your Biography early and 
long before you are ready to issue it, I will give you all the assistance 
I can in the world of fact and the world of opinion and in the world of 
prudence. As to other things you are better judges, you and friends, 
than I am. You had better be in no very great hurry in finally issuing 
your book. Hard times will cut a material figure in its sale, as I see it. 
You are the better j udge, however, of this than I am. . . . 

Your friend, 


Spring-field, III., March 6, 1870. 
Friend Lamon : 

Once Lincoln got kicked at a mill and knocked crazy. Mr. Lincoln 
told me this : that he had to shell the corn with his hands and take it to 
mill on horseback, corn in one end and rocks in the other ; that he went 
to mill on his father's old mare ; that he "had to wait his turn to grind"; 
that it was getting late in the evening, he then being some two (2 ) miles 
from home, not fifty, as stated by Holland ; that he hitched in his old 
mare to the sweep-pole or lever that turned the wheel, and Lincoln, be- 


ing in a great hurry to get through with his grist, urged up the old 
mare to her full speed, round and round, round and round and faster 
and faster ; that he thought she ought to go faster and that he struck 
her, with a stick, saying at the same time, or intended rather to say: 
"Get up you lazy old devil," and just as he struck her and got to the 
words which were uttered: "Get up " the old mare protested with 
her heels on Lincoln's head against such treatment. Lincoln just as 
he had uttered : "Get up," was kicked, knocked crazy, was picked up, 
carried home, came to that night, say about twelve o'clock, and that, 
upon coming to consciousness, Lincoln finished the sentence: "you 
lazy old devil." He finished the sentence just as he intended to speak it, 
commencing where he left off. Lincoln told me this ; and he and I used 
to speculate on it. The first question was : why was not the whole ex- 
pression uttered ; and the second one : why finish at all? We came to the 
conclusion I being somewhat of a psychologist as well as physiolo- 
gist he aiding me and I him, that the mental energy, force, had been 
flashed by the will on the nerves and thence on the muscles and that 
that energy, force, or power had fixed the muscles in the exact shape, 
or form, or attitude, or position, to utter those words ; that the kick 
shocked him, checked, momentarily the action of the muscles ; and that 
so soon as that check was removed or counteracted by a returning flow 
of life and energy, force, and power in their proper channels, that the 
muscles fired off, as it were functioned as the nervous energy flashed 
there by the will through the nerves acted automatically under a 
power in repose. This seemed to us to be the legitimate conclusion of 

Let me say a word or two about Lincoln's mother and Lincoln's 
opinion of her. As I told you before, Mr. Lincoln openly and candidly 
and sincerely told me that his mother was a bastard. The exact idea 
that suggested the thought to tell what was told me by Lincoln was 
this : Lincoln and I had a case in the Menard circuit court which re- 
quired a discussion on hereditary qualities of mind, natures, etc. Lin- 
coln's mind was dwelling on his case, mine on something else. Lincoln 
all at once said : "Billy, I'll tell you something, but keep it a secret 
while I live. My mother was a bastard, was the daughter of a noble- 
man so called of Virginia. My mother's mother was poor and credulous, 
etc., and she was shamefully taken advantage of by the man. My 
mother inherited his qualities and I hers. All that I am or hope ever to 


be I get from my mother, God bless her. Did you never notice that 
bastards are generally smarter, shrewder, and more intellectual than 
others ? Is it because it is stolen ?" This is a substantial statement made 
to me by Lincoln just on a hot overlapping spring creek on the road to 
Petersburg two and a half miles west of this city about 1851 and about 
which there is nor can be any material mistake and in these last ex- 
pressions I have sometimes thought that Lincoln intended to include 
himself. I do not assert this to be so : it only seems so, by a loose intend- 
ment made by me, a loose impression made by me. The manner of Lin- 
coln I never shall forget nor what was said, nor the place, whatever 
may become of time. 

There is much in Holland's life of Lincoln which is true, as I gave 
him much, though he did not record what I said correctly. ... I 
doubt the Parson Elkin story, that part which says that Lincoln wrote 
to the parson. Lincoln was about eight years old, lived in a wilderness, 
had no paper, as always, at hand, no ink, etc. Think the story came 
from Dennis Hanks. . . . Mrs. Lincoln died as said by some with 
the milk sickness, some with a galloping quick consumption. Lincoln's 
readings are exaggerated in Holland. . . . Lincoln didn't read the 
Bible much if any, didn't read Henry Clay's life by Prentice in 1830, 
nor 28-9 ; because it was not then printed, as I remember. It came here 
about 1833, when Lincoln read it, if ever. Look up the matter. Lincoln 
borrowed of Mr. Crawford, Weems's Washington and not Ramsey's 
Washington. Is there such a life of Washington as Ramsey's life? I 
know that Ramsey wrote a history of the United States, but did he 
write Washington's life? Look into this. It is said that Lincoln read 
Plutarch's Lives. This is not so. The boat story as told by Holland is 
untrue. Lincoln never tried to build a boat for himself nor his father 
to carry off the extra products of the Lincoln farm. Pshaw, the idea 
is ridiculous ! If the Lincoln family got enough to eat on a few acres 
of ground tilled by Thomas Lincoln and "Abe," they should have 
thanked God and taken courage. I doubt the dollar story there- 
fore. . . . The dollars part may have happened or taken place at 
some other time and place and yet I doubt. Holland tells many things 
in the first, second, third, and fourth chapters which are true. I was 
told them by Lincoln and I told Holland ; will read Holland and pick 
out what I know to be true as I learned them from Lincoln and others. 


Be it remembered that I have walked over the Lincoln farm, saw every- 
body, etc., in Indiana, and know whereof I speak. . . . 

Mr. Holland makes Mr. Lincoln dream of his destiny about 1837 ; 
mistake, it was in 1840. . . . Holland exaggerates Lincoln's popu- 
larity. ... I gave you the true version in one of my letters to you. 
Holland tells a story about Lincoln's honesty as postmaster. . . . 
This is substantially so ; think I was present at the time or heard it 
directly after it happened. Lincoln and I were going to Petersburg in 
1850, 1 think. The political world was dead, the compromise of 1850 
seemed to settle the Negroes' fate, etc. Things seemed to be stagnant 
and all hope for progress in the line of progress, etc., freedom, etc., 
seemed to be crushed out. Lincoln was speculating with me about the 
deadness and despair of things and deeply regretting that his human 
strength and power were limited by his nature to rouse and stir up 
the world. He said gloomily, despairing, sadly : "How hard, oh, how 
hard it is to die and leave one's country no better than if one had never 
lived for it ! The world is dead to hope, deaf to its own death struggle 
made known by a universal cry. What is to be done? Is anything to 
be done? Who can do anything and how can it be done? Did you ever 
think of these things ?" . . . 

Holland has got a part of this. . . . The fight of Lincoln, his offer 
to defend Col. E. D. Baker, and what he said on that occasion is true 
to the letter. . . . 

I think none of all these things are in your record and yet I know 
them to be true, as stated herein substantially. Your record will com- 
plete what is incomplete. I did not record many things that I knew to 
be true, because they were familiar to me, and I knew I could draw on 
my memory if I should attempt to write the biography of Lincoln. 
. . . What I meant to say about the Lincoln genealogical tree was 
that, so far as my investigation of witness in this matter, I failed to be 
satisfied through such investigation. Lincoln's biographies make it 
plain, and yet I could find myself no human testimony proving and 
clinching beyond doubt the truthfulness of the genealogy of Lin- 
coln. . . . 

Some few days, probably on the day he received an invitation to de- 
liver his Cooper Institute speech, he came into the office and looked 
much pleased, not to say tickled. He said to me : "Billy, I am invited or 


solicited to deliver a lecture in New York. Should I go?" "By all 
means," I replied, "and it is a good opening too." "If you were in my 
fix, what subject would you choose?" said Lincoln. "Why, a political 
one, that's your forte," I said to Lincoln. Mr. Lincoln had some year 
or two before this delivered a lecture here, at Jacksonville and other 
places, and it was so poor that it was a failure, utter failure. I heard it. 
Mr. Lincoln had not the fire, taste, reading, eloquence, etc., which 
would make him a lecturer, had no imagination, no fancy, no taste, 
no emotion, and no readings in that peculiar line, and hence I ad- 
vised him as I did. He would, in the absence of a friend's opinion, as 
soon take up the Beautiful as any other subject for a lecture when he 
had no sense of it. Lincoln had poor judgments of the fitness and ap- 
propriateness of things. He would wade into a ballroom and speak 
aloud to some friend: "How clean these women look!" Mr. Lincoln 
was a curious being ; he had an idea that he was equal to, if not superior 
to, all things ; thought he was fit and skilled in all things, master of all 
things, and graceful in all things. Lincoln had not good judgments; 
he had no sense of the fitness, appropriateness, harmony, of things. 
This nature forced itself on my observation and I could not avoid re- 
flections and conclusions and the most of these I think you have in my 
lectures, etc., etc. Mr. Lincoln was a strong man, a good man, an 
honest man, a tender man, full of the integrity of human purposes, had 
a tenacity of purpose, a persistency and continuity of thought, the 
equal to which I never witnessed, and never expect to see. 

But about the Cooper Institute lecture. I advised Mr. Lincoln to go 
by all means and to lecture on politics. I told Mr. Lincoln I thought it 
would help open the way to the Presidency, thought I could see the 
meaning of the move by the New York men, thought it was a move 
against Seward, thought Greeley had something to do with it, think 
so yet, have no evidence. The result you know. Mr. Lincoln's Cooper 
Institute speech was a profound one, as I think. 

In one of my letters to you I said substantially that it did Mr. Lin- 
coln's soul good to hear censure, condemnation, etc., and this is true 
when that censure, condemnation, etc., were directed to his equal and 
rival the great who were struggling for the things, offices, etc., that 
Lincoln had his eyes on, his hopes on, and his soul. As to little men, or 
great men who did not "run counter" to Lincoln's ambition, he was 
pensive, indifferent, etc., saying by act : "Go it, husband go it, bear." 


Let what I say here modify what I said in my former letter. I write by 
snatches and "ketches" in court, during court hours, being disturbed 
by this man and that, etc., for this purpose and that, etc., etc. 

Religion Again 

James H. Matheny tells me that from about 1854 to 1860 Lincoln 
played a sharp game here on the religious world, that Lincoln knew 
that he was to be a great man, was a rising man, was looking to the 
Presidency, etc., and well knowing that the old infidel, if not atheistic, 
charge would be made and proved against him, and to avoid the dis- 
grace, odium, and unpopularity of it, trampled on the Christian toes, 
saying : "Come and convert me." The elders, lower and higher members 
of the churches, including ministers, etc., flocked around him and that 
he appeared openly to the world as a seeker ; that it was noised about 
that Lincoln was a seeker after salvation, etc., in the Lord ; that letters 
were written more or less all over the land that Lincoln was soon to be 
a changed man, etc., and thus it was he used the Reverend James Smith 
of Scotland, old man Bergen, and others. I have often thought that 
there was something in this, but can't affirm it to be so. This is 
Matheny's honest opinion, and no man is superior to Matheny ? s judg- 
ments, etc., of human nature, actions, and motives, etc. He knew Lin- 
coln as well as I did, I think. One thing is true : that the said Reverend 
Dr. Smith of Scotland presented Lincoln with a book written by said 
doctor ; Lincoln brought it to the office, laid it down, never took it up 
again to my knowledge, never condescended to write his name in it, 
never spoke of it to me. Never let me know much about his religious 
aspirations from 1854 to 1860 in the above line, always appeared dif- 
ferent, that scorning all Christian views. It is said by someone here 
that Lincoln told him that he was about converted, but that man I 
do not know and can't find out is said to be a blab, etc. I do not 
think that Mr. Lincoln was a hypocrite and yet I know he scarcely 
trusted any man with his more profound secrets. I had to read them in 
his facts, acts, hints, face, as well as what he did not do nor say, how- 
ever absurd this last expression may appear to be. Mr. Lincoln was a 
secretive man, had great ambition, profound policies, deep prudences, 
etc., was retired, contemplative, abstract, as well as abstracted- Lin- 
coln was about as shrewd a man as this world ever had and yet he was 


honest, fair, and manly, incapable of falsehood, of base deception, or 
of fraud, as I think. But you shall have all opinions and all sides and 
all facts and acts that I can find, and when you have all these you can 
judge for yourself. 

I send you the Reverend Dr. Smith's letter from Scotland, giving 
me "goss." I send the Chicago Tribune's article on the Ann Rutledge 
lecture. It says that the Ann Rutledge lecture is exploded, gone to the 
dogs, was imprudent, etc. When that Ann Rutledge lecture shall be ex- 
ploded, the substantial facts of it, then Lincoln's name and memory 
will explode with it. You have the facts of it, the most of them in your 
record. You can see for yourself and you must judge for yourself. 
Smith's letter is simply folly, bombast, etc., and what he says of Lin- 
coln's religion, the Rible, etc., means nothing. It is too general in its 
expression ; he might say the same things of me speaking generally, 
and yet it wouldn't express my ideas at all, nor my philosophy, nor my 
religion. I believe that the Bible is the revelation of God, and that Jesus 
was the son of God, and so do I believe that the Declaration of Inde- 
pendence is the revelation of God and George Washington, a son of 
God. I can talk a week to technical Christians and they will assume 
that I mean so and so when I don't mean so and so. Glittering general- 
ities won't do. I believe in miracles, think a man is a miracle and God's 
grandest miracle, believe in miraculous conception, think your con- 
ception was a miraculous one. Glittering generalities won't do. Read 
my letter to Smith and notice the questions closely. Then read Smith's 
letter to me and watch the answers closely and you will see that he an- 
swered no question. About miraculous conception, etc., he said no 
word. In fact he made no specific answer to anything. He knew I would 
prove him false if he should be precise, so he dealt in generalities. I 
could not answer Smith at the time of his letter, first, because I was en- 
gaged in more important things ; and, second, I would have to drag 
Mrs. Lincoln into the field, because Smith took refuge under her, 
fought from behind her ; and, third, because I should be compelled to 
say something of Smith's morals, temperance, integrity, and character 
generally ; and, fourth, because I knew I had the facts and truths in 
my own hand, knew it would all come to light sometime, etc. Hence I 
bided my time. If Smith is correct, do him justice. Do Smith and all 
men exact and equal justice. Criticize all, thoroughly and well. If I 


make any broad mistakes with pen or otherwise in my rush and great 
hurry give me an opportunity to correct. 

I send you Lincoln's letter to Wallace on protection. Don't know 
that it was ever copied in the records, think it was, but for fear it was 
not, I send it to you. Lincoln was a strong protection man. He and John 
Calhoun of Kansas, in this city in 1844, held a long discussion, say 
three or four nights, on protective tariffs. Both these men were strong 
men, strong on this question. Calhoun in 1844 was a strong, very 
strong, and clear-headed man, Lincoln's equal and the superior of 
Douglas, but whisky whisky ruined him long, long before he went to 
Kansas. Calhoun was a noble man in his original nature went to 
school to him but whisky, poverty, etc., etc., did their work. He 
fell and yet in his fall he was a gentleman in every sense of the word. 
He loved Lincoln and as well as Lincoln could he returned it. I heard 
this discussion, "toted books," and "hunted up authorities" for Lin- 
coln, as I did in law. 

Your friend, 


Springfield, III., March 15, 1870. 
Friend Lamon : 

Your letter making certain inquiries is this moment handed to me. 
If I were you I should tell the truth as I saw it. I should suppress no 
truth and suggest no falsehood. If I thought Mr. Lincoln an illegiti- 
mate I should state it. I would draw a strong contrast between what 
he was born and how he died. He was born into the social world with a 
curse on him, a millstone tied to his neck, and yet by his own inherent 
force of a sacred purpose he on the tide floated to glory. Show his 
origin and end sharply contrasted. Contrast is a power; it makes 
things distinct. Sympathy is a power. State the facts of his origin so 
as to assure active sympathy and to bind it to him. Sympathy is a 
power. Give me the sympathy of the world and you may have its cold 
iron logic. Lincoln the unaided, uneducated, Lincoln the penniless 
barefoot boy, through [undeciphered] and persistency of an honest 
purpose, carved upon the world's history the character of Honest 
Abe. I should show his low origin and high end in bold contrast, run- 


ning such parallels as history suggested, etc. I should then applaud 
this democracy, this government, and show that such a character un- 
der such lowly conditions would be an impossibility in Europe, etc., 
would show these things, holding them up to the young in this world 
for all coming time as stimulants, as living hopes urging them to a life 
of integrity, faith, and hope. This all seems grand to me ; and whether 
you know it or not, Lincoln's life to me was a grand life, knowing what 
I do of him. This is my idea, and I think the best course for you. You 
must do so, if you want your hero to shine. Without this whole truth 
business, I do not think it possible to make his life a grand struggle, 
making [incomplete] . . . 

Springfield, IU., March 23, 1870. 
Friend Lamon : 

I have been very busy in court for a month or more and had no time 
to finish anything or polish anything wrote in a gallop, with a whoop. 
I wrote you a hasty letter yesterday, stating to you what you ought to 
do and what you ought not to do in relation to quoting authorities, I 
have another view of the case which I wish to present to your view and 
it is this : If you indiscriminately quote men and women on all questions, 
they will turn on me in this way : "When I gave you the information I 
trusted you, gave you the information, not expecting you would sell 
it to another. It was a personal trust in you." 

On general questions not affecting Lincoln's mother, Lincoln's 
birth and parentage, Lincoln's domestic relations and his religion, I 
can see no objections to quoting names. To that extent I will trust your 
discretion. In all cases affecting the above things, including Lincoln's 
courtship, you must get the consent of those who gave me the informa- 
tion. Your records will show you where to write and to whom. I will 
see as many as I can and get their consent, will write to as many as I 
can and ask them for authority, but this must not release you from 
like efforts to all persons, for I may not get time, have got .to go out 
on the circuit and plead for bread. I am satisfied that I gave promises 
to more persons than I have spoken about, have no doubt that I gave 
my word to Haycraf b and to the clerk at Hodgenville, as well as to 
Speed and Helm. I do not say this simply because I can say it, but 
because it is probably true. It has been a long time since I got the in- 


formation, and as I have passed through several hells since 1866 and 
7, 1 may have forgotten my promises. To break this honor is to ruin 
me and your book. We must walk discreet and have no attacks made on 
us that we cannot well and truthfully defend. Where we are discreet 
as well as true there we can stand and laugh, defying all charges of 
little men and women. Your book must not go out with this danger 
around it. Think well of these things. 

Any question which will not raise a howl against us, me, yourself, 
and your book, quote freely from men and, if you will and must, women. 

If I can only stand on truth and honor, I do not care for the howls 
of Christianity, of cringing timids, of policies, of fools and asses. I 
expect to be attacked as no man has been attacked lately, but I do 
not care for that much, when I know I have Truth, Honor, and Pro- 
priety on my side. I have long since determined to tell the truth and 
the whole truth in reference to Mr. Lincoln's life, come weal or woe. 
The world wants one true life of one man to swear by and they will 
get it, I hope, in your life of Lincoln. 

I have just seen John T. Stuart and he gives you this authority: 
"Use my name on all things except where it would create unpleasant 
feelings and on this question I give Lamon a broad discretion." If you 
would only write to men and women, you could get their consent with- 
out any trouble, and how much better and safer for me, for you and 
your book. 

There is nothing in Indiana that you cannot use that I now re- 
member of. There is nothing in the county of Menard, including Lin- 
coln's religion, insanity, courtship, etc., that you cannot use Green, 
Cogsdale, Irwin, Hill, Bale, Spears, Mrs. Green, Mrs. Armstrong. 
Probably I told Ann Rutledge's man, Lincoln's rival forget his name 
just now that I would not use his name, left it blank on the Ann 
Rutledge lecture as I suppose for that reason. You can learn his name 
from your record; I think his name is McNeil or McNamar. . . . 
It is only in cases that would create unpleasant feelings, cruel criti- 
cisms, etc., from which you [are] forbidden the use, so you see you have 
a broad field, and if you wish to broaden it, widen it, deepen it, thunder- 
cloud it, in order to flash and blaze, please write to the persons. 

Suppose I know that I made no promise to any and all persons, do 
you not know enough of human nature to know that timids, cowards, 
policy men, squeamish women, gray hard youths, fools, and asses 


would turn on me if they could make a dollar out of it or dodge a 
consequence of irritating circumstances, and how could I prove that I 
made no promise? You now have my ideas ; would like to hear yours. 

Your friend, 


Chinkapin, Sangamon County, January 15, 1874. 
Dear Sir * : 

You say you desire to know all possible things of the great and good 
dead. I have just now a few moments to spare, and I do not know how 
better to spare them than to tell you what Mr. Lincoln really was and 
what he was not. Mr. Lincoln was a kind, tender, and sympathetic 
man, feeling deeply in the presence of suffering, pain, wrong, or op- 
pression in any shape ; he was the very essence and substance of truth ; 
was of unbounded veracity, had unlimited integrity, always telling 
the exact truth, and always doing the honest thing at all times and 
under all circumstances. He was just to men, he loved the right, the 
good, and true, with all his soul. 

I was with Mr. Lincoln for about twenty-five years, and I can truth- 
fully say I never knew him to do a wrong thing, never knew him to do 
a mean thing, never knew him to do any little dirty trick. He was 
always noble. In his nature he felt noble and acted nobly. I never knew 
so true a man, so good a one, so just a one, so incorrupted and incor- 
ruptible a one. He was a patriot and loved his country well, and died 
for it, Mr. Lincoln expressed his great feelings in his thoughts, and 
his great thoughts in his feelings ; he lived in his thoughts, and thought 
in his feelings. By these his soul was elevated and purified for his work. 
His work was the highest and grandest religion, noble duty nobly dpne. 
Mr. Lincoln was cool and calm under the most trying circumstances ; 
he had unbounded charity for all men. 

In religion he was a theist, somewhat after the order of Theodore 
Parker. Mr. Lincoln was not a speculative-minded man; was, like 
Washington, severely practical ; he never ran in advance of his age, 
and yet was always directing the ideas and feelings of men to purely 

i An unknown correspondent, who published it in a newspaper probably of the 
same year. An undated clipping has been preserved in an old scrapbook. It is not 
known whether the original letter still exists. 

From a Photograph by W. J. Thompson 

Henry C. Whitney 
Collection of Herbert Wells Fay 

Truman H. Bartlett 
Collection of Prof. H. W. Gardner 

Jesse W. Weik Ward Hill Lamon 



practical ends, to something that would end in good. Mr. Lincoln 
never shaped his veracity, integrity, or virtue to circumstances ; he 
fashioned and formed circumstances, so far as he could, to virtue, 
veracity, and to integrity. He scorned meanness everywhere and at all 
times, and was bold and manly in his denunciation of wrong, however 
and by whoever done ; he was not a foxy, tricky man ; he was a states- 
man high above all tricks. How such a man as Lincoln could walk up 
to the highest point of human grandeur, from such a low origin, God 
only knows. But he was so ordained from the beginning, and so it is. 

Mr. Lincoln was a man of great fidelity to whatever he believed was 
right was true to friends, never deserting them till they deserted 
virtue, veracity, and integrity. Mr. Lincoln could be, and was, trusted 
by the people with almost omnipotent power, and he never abused it 
nor shook the public's faith in him. He was true to his trust, true to 
his country, and true to the rights of man. What a noble man, and 
what a noble life he lived ! Washington was America's creator ; Lincoln 
was its savior. Mr. Lincoln now stands up against the deep blue sky 
the grandest figure of the age. 

I have now stated to you Mr. Lincoln's leading characteristics, and 
if you like him better for them I am well satisfied with what I have told 
you. I have weighed every word and sentence, and can truly say they 
are true to Lincoln and Lincoln true to them. Lincoln was not a very 
social man. He was not spontaneous in his feelings ; was, as some said, 
rather cold; he was rather reflective not cold. However, take him 
all in all, he was as near a perfect man as God generally makes. 

Yours truly, 


Section Three 

Springfield, III., October 8, 1881. 
Mr. Weik. 
My dear Sir : 

I promised, a few clays since, to send you an autograph of Mr. 
Lincoln, if I could find one among my boxed papers, and that if I could 
not I would send you something more sacred, at least in my own eyes, 
than a mere autograph. I, as long ago as '75, promised to send you 
such writing or signature, if I could find one. When I received your 
note of July '81 I had not forgotten my promise nor you. This week 
I unboxed my papers and the result is as follows : I found two of Mr. 
Lincoln's autographs, only two as yet one is a letter written by 
Logan & Lincoln but signed or written by Mr. Lincoln in person 
which letter is addressed to Messrs. Rowland Smith etc., of Louisville, 
Kentucky, and dated April 24, 1844. The other autograph is on a 
leaf of Mr. Lincoln's copybook and is sacred on two accounts : first, 
it is Mr. Lincoln's signature ; and, second, it is a leaf of his arithmetical 
note or copybook, which as I now remember bears date 18242628. 
Now for the how of finding the precious book. Soon after Mr. Lincoln's 
assassination I determined to gather up all the facts of his life 
truly, honestly, and impartially, whatever it might cost in money or 
infamy and to give the facts to the world as I understood them. I 
did so, and probably you know the result. I find that this age is not 
ready to meet its own great truths ; it will meet and grasp old truths, 
great and noble ones that have cost tears and blood way in the morning 
of the race of man. In collecting and gathering up facts of Mr. Lin- 
coln's young life I went in person to various places, towns, cities, 
counties, and States. In order to get at what I wished, I went and saw 
old Mrs. Lincoln, stepmother of the noble lad a boy, a mere boy in 
1824-26-28 in Coles County, Illinois. This was, say, in 1865. I ex- 
amined her, interviewed her in person, and took notes of her conversa- 
tion. She rose in mind high above her surroundings, she was a true 
woman. She told me then that Mr. Lincoln used, when a boy, to keep 
an arithmetical copybook in which he put down his worked out sums. 
She likewise then told me that the boy Abraham was in the like habit 



of putting down in another copybook his literary one all things 
that struck him, such as fine oratory, rhetoric, science, art, etc. He 
likewise put things, wrote sentences, on boards and other places and 
then read them, looked at them, over and over, analyzed them, thor- 
oughly understanding them. He would translate them into his boyish 
language and would tell his schoolmates, friends, and mother what 
they meant, as he understood them ; and tell his thoughts he would; 
and his schoolmates, friends, and mother must hear or he would "bust 
wide open." 

The information thus given me by the good old lady, the kind and 
loving stepmother God bless her put me on nettles, as it were, and 
so we commenced the search, and found this, the arithmetical copy- 
book, a leaf of which you now have. We could not find the other book ; 
it is lost and lost forever, as our search was thorough. Mrs. Lincoln 
gave me the book with her own hands or by the hand of her grandson. 
On this leaf you will find some writing of young Abraham and is as 
follows, the want of caps included : 

Abraham Lincoln 
his hand and pen 
he will be good, but 
god knows when 

On another leaf of the same book is this : 

Abraham Lincoln is my name 

and with my pen I write the same 

I will be a good boy, but God knows when 

By this paper you can tell the extent of Mr. Lincoln's education in 
1824-26-28. The letter is dated in 1844, at which time and at this 
place he was a great lawyer. In 1836 Mr. Lincoln was a tolerably good 
mathematician, as he was surveyor of Sangamon County. What he 
knew he knew plainly, clearly, thoroughly ; he ran things down to the 
ultimate point, beyond which no man ever went. Study what you see 
on these papers and you will see the general extent of Mr. Lincoln's 
personally dug out education. Mr. Lincoln had unbounded and un- 
limited confidence in his own mental powers, he was himself and wholly 
self-reliant, asking no man anything; he searched for what he wanted, 
dug it out by the tap root, held it out before him till he knew it inside 


and outside. Someone has said : "Give me the amount of soap that a 
people uses and I can tell the height of its civilization." Apply this rule 
if rule it is to these papers and run out the rule. Many persons will 
say to scholars young men struggling to climb high "Imitate Mr. 
Lincoln in his methods." All of which is right, but remember that it is 
the mind back of its manifestations which is inimitable, not to be 
imitated ; it is itself and nothing can be like it. A rat cannot be an 
eagle. I once said that Mr. Lincoln was a deeply and thoroughly re- 
ligious man at all times and places and under all conditions and I now 
repeat it : his religion was of the noblest and grandest and the broadest 
kind. Lincoln was a noble man. 

On looking at this leaf and knowing Mr. Lincoln as I do, what mem- 
ories cluster amid my central being, while too writing this letter. Here 
is the name of Lincoln before me, and in my mind, and the newspapers 
overflowing with the sad intelligence of Garfield's death. The mind 
remembers Socrates and Jesus double stars of the Old World Lin- 
coln and Garfield twin stars of the New. Oh, how each suffered in his 
own way and for the Eternal Right 1 The sublime thoughts, the noble 
deeds, the proud acts of these men will enter into all future time as 
moral forces and divine energies, lifting up to a higher level and a 
grander plain the whole race of man for all coming time. The hand of 
him who wrote these sums, this simple poetry, this letter, may molder 
into dust, but his name will outlast these eternal hills: he dreamed 
dreams of glory, and glory is justly his. 

Your friend, 


P.S. You will perceive that this letter is a hasty one. I have no time 
to tone it up nor to rewrite it. 


Springfield, III., November % 
My dear Sir : 

A few days since I received your kind note, for which accept my 
thanks. Enclosed you will find a letter from Abraham Lincoln to John 
D. Johnston Lincoln's stepbrother which I promised to give you ; 
it is the only letter which I have left of Mr. Lincoln's ; it is a genuine 
one written by the great man himself. I have kept the letter up to this 


day as an evidence that Mr. Lincoln was not an atheist ; and, had he 
been one, that fact would not lessen him in my estimation, though not 
one myself. I had this letter once published, but before so doing I 
showed it to several of Mr. Lincoln's old and dear friends, who laughed 
at me for my credulity in believing that Mr. Lincoln believed in im- 
mortality and heaven, as stated in the letter ; it was said to be merely 
a mes-sage of consolation from a dutiful son to his dying father. How- 
ever, I had the letter published, and kept the letter as an evidence that 
Mr. Lincoln was not an atheist. I could have given the letter away 
many times, could have sold it for money, but I would not part with it. 
I think the question of his atheism is settled, and now I present it to 
you. I may say to you that the letter has the ring, it seems to me, of true 
metal, and yet I give no opinion. You have the letter and the facts of 
Mr. Lincoln's life before you, and you can judge as well as I can. I 
will soon in this letter give you a phase of Mr. Lincoln's life not 
generally known, and possibly it will not be believed by the worshiping 
world I mean hero-worshiping world. I have no reference to the 
worship of the religious soul. 

Mr. Lincoln for years supported or helped to support his aged 
father and mother ; it is to the honor of [Lincoln] that he dearly loved 
his stepmother, and it is equally true that she idolized her stepson. 
Johnston, to whom the letter is addressed, was Lincoln's stepbrother, 
the son of Mrs. Lincoln by her first husband. Thomas Lincoln, the 
father of Abraham, courted his second wife in his youth ; she refused 
to have him ; he then courted Nancy Hanks and was married to her. A 
man by the name of Johnston courted Miss Sarah Bush Thomas 
Lincoln's first flame and married her. About the year 1819 both Mrs. 
Lincoln and Mr. Johnston died. Lincoln then in about one year again 
renewed his suit and it was accepted, and they were married. Each had 
two children by the first marriage and none by the second. John 
Johnston was an indolent and shiftless man, a man that was "born 
tired," and yet he was an exceedingly clever man, generous, and very 
hospitable. Lincoln deserves great credit for the care shown his father 
and mother hard cash and warm heart-care. In the very letter which 
I give you this care is shown ; he says in the letter : **You (Johnston) 
already know I desire that neither father nor mother shall be in want 
of any comfort, either in health or in sickness, while they live; and I 
feel sure that you have not failed to use my name, if necessary, to 


procure a doctor or anything else for father in his present sickness." 
Dutiful and affectionate son I Noble man ! Mr. Lincoln was very poor 
at the time this letter was written, not worth, in property, more than 
three or four thousand dollars. 

Mr. Lincoln purchased a piece of property in Coles County, this 
State, as a home for his father and mother, and had it deeded in trust 
for their use and benefit. The aged couple lived in Coles County at the 
time. I do not now recollect all the particulars, and yet I once did. The 
records in Coles County will show the facts, if anyone in the future 
wishes to look the thing further up. Here is exhibited parental love 
and duty, backed up by warm affection, care, good credit, land, home, 
and money. This was true and genuine comfort and material aid. It 
was not all gush, sympathy, and tears on paper ; it was real, solid, 
genuine comfort and support, such as we can live upon. 

I now wish to give you a phase of Mr. Lincoln's life which is not 
generally known, nor will it be believed readily by the multitude ; and 
yet it will be true to the letter and the spirit of his life. He was said to 
be a very simple-minded man, devoid of the silences and ambitions in 
life. I would advise you before you read this letter to read Holland's 
Life of Lincoln, at pages 2412, where you will find many diverse 
[undeciphered] of Mr. Lincoln. Consider it inserted here. Mr. Lin- 
coln was thought, as was before stated, to be a very simple-minded man. 
He was simple in his dress, manners, simple in his approach and his 
presence. Though this be true, he was a man of quite infinite silences 
and was thoroughly and deeply secretive, uncommunicative, and close- 
minded as to his plans, wishes, hopes, and fears. His ambition was 
never satisfied ; in him it was consuming fire which smothered his [un- 
deciphered] feelings. Here he ran for every legislative office, from 
the trusteeship of our then little village to the presidency, and during 
all that time I venture to say that he never wholly opened himself to 
mortal creature. He was skeptical, cautious, and terribly secretive, 
confiding his plans and purposes, ambitions and ends, to no man. I have 
known men in our office to listen to Mr. Lincoln's conversation for a 
short while and then exclaim : "Oh, what a simple-minded man is Mr. 
Lincoln ! So plain ! So unambitious ! So confiding I" and the like, when 
Mr. Lincoln's mind was not in our office but on a hot chase for the end 
so devoutly to be wished. Of all Americans he was, most emphatically, 
a man of the profoundest, widest, and deepest policies. He had his 


burning and Ms consuming ambition, but he kept his secrets and opened 

An interviewer, with the best of intentions in the world, once went 
to Mr. Lincoln's room in the White House while he was President, and 
said: "Mr. President, what do you think of the war and its end?" To 
which Mr. Lincoln politely and laughingly replied : "That question of 
yours puts me in mind of a story about something which happened 
down in Egypt, in the southern part of Illinois." The point of it was 
that a man badly burned his fingers in being in too much haste. Mr. 
Lincoln told the story admirably well, walking up and down the room 
and most heartily laughing all the while. The interviewer saw the point 
coming at him like the sting end of a hornet. As a matter of course he 
was cut to the quick, and quickly downstairs he rushed with an oath in 
mouth, saying he would "never interview that man again." He was as 
good as his word, and never tried to interview the President again. And 
thus it always was with Mr. Lincoln. . . . 

While I say that Mr. Lincoln was ambitious, secretive, and some- 
what selfish, do not infer from these words that he was a dishonest 
man, nor an insincere man, nor a hypocrite, nor a mean man, nor a 
base man. He was, on the contrary, full of honesty, integrity, sincerity ; 
open, fair, and candid when speaking or acting. He was for Lincoln 
always, but with Lincoln's intense honesty. Mr. Lincoln was a wise man, 
a shrewd man, a long-headed man, full of his own policies. He was a 
marginal man, always leaving a blank on his paper, so that the future 
might write the future lessons thereon. Mr. Lincoln hated speculation, 
had no cranks, was not visionary and impracticable. He had relatively 
no imagination and no fancy, and was materially and purely prac- 
ticable. He had one of the very best-balanced heads in America ; and 
it was poised well on his shoulders. Henry Clay was his ideal states- 
man, a purely material and practical man. Mr. Lincoln's man was 
purely logical, and he followed his conclusions to the ultimate end, 
though the world perished. I never heard Mr. Lincoln harshly con- 
demn any man, nor did I ever hear him praise but two men : one Thomas 
Jefferson, on paper; and the other, Henry Clay, in his speech and 
letters, and in his heart. Was this jealousy, or what? I think he cared 
for principles, and not much for men, especially if he did not want to 
use them for his own ends, which were generally high and noble. Mr* 
Lincoln had no low cunning, was not a trickster, a mere wire-puller. 


He scorned and detested all such political arts. His mind required and 
lived on facts, figures, and principles. He was destitute of faith which 
comes and goes without evidence. His own reason and human experience 
were his authority, and these only with him were authority. 

It is a fact that Mr. Lincoln was a peculiar man, a wonderful, 
marvelous, and mysterious man to the world generally. I was with him 
for about twenty-five years ; and I think I knew him well. Mr. Lincoln 
never took the advice of any man or set of men, generally speaking. He 
never asked the opinion or advice of any man. He was self-reliant, self- 
poised, self-helping, and self-assertive, but not dogmatic by any 
means. He clung like gravity to his own opinions. He was the most con- 
tinuous and severest thinker in America. He read but little and that 
for an end. Politics were his Heaven, and his Hades metaphysics. His 
tendency in philosophy was materialistic ; he was an evolutionist ; and 
yet, as the letter now presented to you shows, he believed in God, a 
Maker, immortality, and heaven. I am not now advocating any par- 
ticular opinion or any object, nor denying one. I am simply stating 
facts, letting each man and woman draw his or her own conclusions. I 
give no decided opinion about the letter, except I know it is genuine, 
and now yours, which I hope you will keep to the end of your time, and 
then it may descend to the family as an heirloom, a great treasure 

May I say again that Mr. Lincoln was a shrewd man, a long-headed 
man, a wise man, full of policies? Mr. Lincoln knew that Senator 
Douglas was in his way in the North, and so he, at Freeport, deter- 
mined to kill him (politically). He put a question and that, too, 
against his friends* advice and importunities to Senator Douglas, 
which he knew the Senator must answer one way or the other, and he 
further knew that to answer the question either way was death to 
Douglas death in the North if he answered one way, and death in the 
South if another. It was cold, well-calculated death any way. Douglas 
answered and of that answer he died. Again, after Douglas's death, 
in the North was only Seward to oppose him and Lincoln determined 
to kill or outstrip him. Hence his "house divided against itself speech 
here in 1858, and his speeches, his "irrepressible conflict" speeches, in 
Ohio. Lincoln ridiculed when he could Seward's "higher law" idea, 
scared some of the Republicans with it, and got the confidence some- 
what of the extreme Republicans ; and in his great Cooper Institute 


speech in New York in 1860 he drove the nail in Seward's political 
coffin. All this was planned and coldly calculated by Lincoln. I know 
this to be true. 

What! This a simple-minded man? This a politically "innocent 
dear'* man? This a mere thing, without ideas and policies? Away with 
all such opinions ! Look how he treated his Cabinet in the issuance of 
his great proclamation of emancipation. He consulted them simply 
about little and unimportant matters ; and so said to them before he 
read it. He decreed to issue it. He simply wanted his Cabinet to hear it 
read, and that is all. This proclamation was issued as by doom, and 
what he did was not for the love of the slave or liberty, but to save the 
Union. It was to preserve his "oath registered [in] heaven." He kept 
his oath, saved the Union, and with a quick dash of the military pen he 
freed four millions of people. 

In philosophy Mr. Lincoln was a realist as opposed to an idealist, 
was a sensationalist as opposed to an intuitionalist, a materialist as 
opposed to a spiritualist, and yet remember what he says in his letter. 
I said to you in a private letter that Mr. Lincoln was at all times and 
places and under all circumstances a deeply and a thoroughly religious 
man, sincerely, firmly, broadly, and grandly so. I do not say he was a 
Christian. I do not say that he was not. I give no opinion the one way 
or the other. I simply state facts and let each person judge for himself. 

I say, in short, in terms of contradiction, if you please, that Mr. Lin- 
coln was a perfect and an imperfect man, a strong man and a weak 
one ; but take him all in all, he was one of the best, wisest, greatest, and 
noblest of men in all the ages. 

Most respectfully yours, 


Springfield, III., September 15, 1883. 
Editor of the Indianapolis Herald: 

In your issue of August 25, 1 see a letter written by a gentleman by 
the name of J. W. Gordon, which is dated August 20, 1883. In that 
letter, W. H. Lamon, author of the Life of Lincoln, and myself, are 
accused of laboring to cast reproach upon the parents of Abraham 
Lincoln. The aim and spirit of the letter are proper and most excellent. 


The writer and I agree in sentiment and opinion. No one should cast 
reproach upon Nancy Hanks and Thomas Lincoln or Abraham Lin- 
coln, or any of the family, big or little. I do not believe anyone can do 
so. The difference between Mr. Gordon and myself, as well as Lamon, 
is one of fact. The writer says that Lamon labored to cast reproach 
upon his benefactor, "by more than intimating that they (Nancy 
Hanks and Thomas Lincoln) were never legally married." I quote 
his words. Here is a charge, in substance, that Lamon says in his 
biography that Thomas Lincoln and Nancy Hanks were never married. 
The charge is in substance explicit. Now what are the facts ? Lamon 
says in his biography of Lincoln, on page 10 I quote his words : "It 
is admitted by all the residents of the place (Elizabethtown, Ken- 
tucky) that they (Nancy Hanks and Thomas Lincoln) were honor- 
ably married." Mr. J. W. Gordon quotes his sentence from the same 
book that I do, and on the same page, and from the same paragraph ; 
and why did he quote only a part and leave out the pith and marrow of 
the thing? Mr. Lamon admits that the couple were honorably married, 
though he failed to find the written record of the marriage in Hardin 
or the adjoining counties. Why does Mr. Gordon misquote and mis- 
represent Lamon? What was his motive for doing it? Was the thing an 
accident, an oversight? He quotes only a part of what Lamon says and 
leaves off the nib and sharp point of the main question. I shall make 
no charges against Mr. Gordon, because he may have acted honestly, 
and may have intended to be fair in his letter and the quotation therein, 
which is substantially correct as far as it goes. The gentleman now 
produces the record of the marriage of Thomas Lincoln and wife, and 
I am glad of it. Mr, Lamon did search for the records in Hardin and 
adjoining counties in Kentucky, and could not find them, and he so 
states the case in substance. He admits the marriage that it was 
honestly done and that it was followed by mutual acknowledgment, 
and by living and cohabiting together as man and wife. The records 
above spoken of were found in Washington County, and not in an 
adjoining county. What more could Lamon say as an honest biog- 
rapher? No more. The record, as exhibited by Mr. Gordon, shows that 
Thomas Lincoln and Nancy Hanks were married on the 23d day of 
April 1806, and the Thomas Lincoln Bible, which I have seen, and 
now have a copy before me, says (it is in Abraham Lincoln's hand- 
writing) that Sarah Lincoln was born on the 10th day of February 


1807, less than five months from the marriage. Sarah Lincoln was their 
first child. She grew up and was married to a man by the name of Aaron 
Grigsby. Abraham Lincoln wrote out in his own hand a list of the 
marriages, births, and deaths of the family and put it in the Thomas 
Lincoln Bible. I suppose he forgot it. There may be mistakes in the 
above figures. I give Mrs. Lincoln and Thomas Lincoln the benefit of 
all doubts ; it is easy to err in dates and figures. Looking at all the 
facts, did Lamon try to cast reproach on Thomas Lincoln and wife? 
Not a word of it. He simply stated the facts as they were before 
him. Mr. Gordon was a little too hasty in this matter. Lamon under- 
stands the facts of the case better than Mr. Gordon does. 

Now as to myself. In the year 1873, I think, I delivered a lecture 
in this city to a large and intelligent audience in answer to similar 
charges and assertions as above by one Reed, James A. Reed, pastor 
of this city. Reed was too hasty in this controversy, just as Gordon 
was or is ; he burned his fingers just as Gordon has scorched his. Mr. 
Gordon says in the published letter, this: "Mr. Herndon too has 
seemed equally willing to cast reproach upon the memory of the great 
martyr's parents." This I deny. No man cast reproach upon the par- 
ents of Mr. Lincoln. Mrs. Lincoln was a good woman a noble woman 
and an intellectual one. Thomas Lincoln was a good man and an honest 
one. In my lecture spoken of here, and by Mr. Gordon, I said on look- 
ing over the whole evidence then known and before us of the marriage 
[that I knew] that Thomas Lincoln and Nancy Hanks were lawfully 
and honestly married. I simply asked the question, did they jump a 
broomstick as ceremony of marriage, etc? The question was simply a 
question and not a charge of any kind. I was debating the question 
on the proofs. Now the proofs of the marriage in proper form have 
been put in evidence, and they settle the question of the marriage and 
that is all they do settle. There is much behind them that is not neces- 
sary now and here to mention. I would advise Mr. Gordon not to jump 
into print, nor enter into this controversy till he understands all the 
facts. I am glad the records are all produced ; they were produced be- 
fore Mr. Gordon produced them as I am informed. I am satisfied of the 
lawful marriage of Nancy Hanks and Thomas Lincoln, and now bless 
their memories forever. 

Most respectfully yours, 



Spring-field, III, April 14, 1885. 
Friend Weik: 

I have just received your letter, dated the 12th inst., and in answer 
to which, in part, let me say that I am still in court and busy, and don't 
know when 1*11 get out ; but when I do I'll write to you. I am glad that 
you purpose writing some articles for the Cincinnati] Com\mercial~\ 
Gaz\_ette\. . . . Do not say anything about my supposed theory of 
Lincoln's paternity, as it will be liable to misconstruction. I have the 
facts of Lincoln's paternity, etc., but have never given them to the 
world ; will sometime, it may be. Some things are not clear to me, only 
have a kind of "theory" of the thing. I wish you were here and put 
your questions to me and let me answer orally. However, I'll answer if 
I can steal time from my business. 

I prefer what Lincoln told me about his mother to what Dennis 
Hanks tells. You must watch Dennis, criticize what he says and how 
he says it, when and where "tight" or sober. Dennis loves to blow. Den- 
nis came into the world at the back door out of a Miss Hanks ; his 
father is Charles. Dennis has got things mixed up ; he purposely con- 
ceals all things that degrade the Hankses. Dennis came out of one 
Hanks and Lincoln out of another ; the girls were cousins as I now 
recollect it. Thomas Lincoln, Abraham's father, and Abraham Enloe 
had a severe fight over things. How goes this -fact with Dennis's sixteen- 
year-old boy? 

I saw the "great abolitionist," I think in 1858, just a little while 
before the race of Douglas and Lincoln actually began ; went to see 
them at the implied request of Lincoln, as I understood his hints; did 
not let the "great abolitionist" know who sent me nor whom I im- 
pliedly represented; saw Trumbull, Sumner, Greeley, Parker, Phil- 
lips, Garrison, et aL; stated to them what I wanted, i.e., what the great 
West wanted. Told them that Douglas could not be trusted, that Lin- 
coln could, gave them facts upon facts, and opinion upon opinion. 
All went well, except Greeley. I will write you sometime if I get time. 3 

Sorry to hear of your rheumatic ills. 

Your friend, 


i See letter to Weik of December 23, 1885. 


Spring-field, III., October 21, 1885. 
Friend Weik : 

Mr. Lincoln's habits, methods of reading law, politics, poetry, etc., 
etc., were to come into the office, pick up book, newspaper, etc., and to 
sprawl himself out on the sofa, chairs, etc., and read aloud, much to 
my annoyance. I have asked him often why he did so and his invariable 
reply was : "I catch the idea by two senses, for when I read aloud I 
hear what is read and I see it ; and hence two senses get it and I re- 
member it better, if I do not understand it better." Sometimes in read- 
ing he would have his body on the sofa, one foot on one chair and one 
foot on the table. He spilt himself out easily over one-quarter of the 
room. I have had to quit the office frequently because of this reading 
aloud. In reading at his private house he would turn his chair down, up- 
side down, lean it down, turn it over, and rest his head on the back of 
the chair, it forming an inclined plane, his back and body on the 
carpet, read aloud, stop, think, and repeat to himself what he read, 
and repeat it to you he would or faint. He was in no sense, except in 
politics, a general reader ; he read specially for a special obj ect and 
applied it. Mr. Lincoln was practical and thought things useless 
unless they could [be] of utility, use, practice, etc., etc. ; he would 
read awhile, read till he got tired, and then he must tell a story, 
crack a joke, make a jest to ease himself; he hated study except for 
the practical to be applied right off as it were. In other words he 
had an end in view always. He was a long-headed strong man ; he was 
reflective, not spontaneous ; he was not a very generous man, had no 
avarice of the get but had the avarice of the keep; he was liberal and 
charitable in his views of mankind in all their relations. Mr. Lincoln 
was a man of thought. I have met him in the streets of this city possibly 
a thousand times and said to him : "Good morning, Mr. Lincoln," and 
he would spraddle, walk along as if I were not in existence, so ab- 
stracted was he. Can you read this ? Am hurried, will write you again 
and again. 

Your friend, 
W. H. 


Springfield, III., October 28, 1885. 
Friend Weik: 

By Mr. Lincoln's course in Congress in the Mexican War he po- 
litically killed himself here ; he offered some resolutions in Congress 
calling for the "spot" where the first blood was shed by the Mexicans. 
This was in 1847-48, 1 think. Mr. Lincoln knew that he was politically 
dead and so he went most heartily to knowledge ; he took Euclid around 
with him on the circuit and of nights and odd times he would learn 
Euclid's problems. Lincoln and I slept in the same bed ; he read by 
tallow candlelight. The bedsteads in some cases were too short and 
so his feet hung over the footboard. He would study till twelve or one 
o'clock in the night. At this time he despaired of ever rising again in 
the political world ; he was -very sad and terribly gloomy, was unsocial 
and abstracted. The Kansas-Nebraska Bill was introduced into Con- 
gress in 1854 by Senator Douglas. Lincoln saw his opportunity and 
Douglas's downfall ; he instantly on the introduction of that bill en- 
tered into the political field, and by force of his character, mind, elo- 
quence, he became our abolition leader ; he was too conservative for 
some of us, and I among them, and yet I stuck to Lincoln in the hopes 
of his sense of justice and the eternal right. I was the abolitionist and 
kept on my table such speeches as Theodore Parker's, Giddings's, 
Phillips's, Sumner's, Seward's, etc. Lincoln and I took from 1853 to 
1861 such papers as the Chicago Tribune, New York Tribune, The 
Anti-Slavery Standard, Charleston Mercury, Richmond Enquirer, 
National Era. Garrison's paper was sent me by friends. I purchased 
all the anti-slavery histories, biographies, etc., and kept them on my 
table, and when I found a good thing, a practical thing, I would read 
it to Lincoln. I urged him along as fast as I could. I think I had May's 
history of the anti-slavery movements, had the decennial report of 
the anti-slavery conventions, etc., can't call them all over now. Lin- 
coln now from 1854 to 1861 was in his glory, had hopes, bright hopes, 
to fill his aspirations. Will write. 

Your friend, 


Again and again you fix up in order of time, etc., etc. 
The list of papers, etc., is important to know. Lincoln was well 
posted on both sides. I had a Southern work called Sociology by Fitz- 


hugh, I think. It defended slavery in every way. This aroused the ire of 
Lincoln more than most pro-slavery books. 

Springfield, III, October 29, 1885. 
Friend Weik: 

Mr. Lincoln was a good while preparing his "house divided against 
itself" speech ; he was at it off and on about one month. If a good idea 
struck him, if a forcible one, he penciled down on a small slip of paper 
and put it in his hat, where he carried quite all his plunder, checkbook 
for the bank account, letters answered and unanswered, handkerchief, 
etc. After Mr. Lincoln had finished his speech by putting piece to piece 
and note to note he came into our office early one morning and said : 
"Billy, I want now to read my speech, and after I am done, I want your 
opinion of it in all directions" ; and to which I replied : "Certainly, Mr. 
Lincoln, I'll listen attentively to it and give you my opinion of it in 
every direction." He and I forgot to lock the office door. When Lincoln 
had read the speech about half through, Uncle Jesse Dubois, auditor 
of [the] State, came into our office and said : "Lincoln, what are you 
doing?" and to which Mr. Lincoln said sharply, tartly : "It is none of 

your d d business." Dubois left the office in a huff. When he had 

gone, Lincoln commenced reading the remainder of his speech, and 
when through he then asked me for my opinion of it. I said to Mr. 
Lincoln in reply this : "The speech is a good one, written with great 
power, and will bring you prominently before the American people. It 
is in advance of the age, but deliver it just as you have written it." He 
subsequently consulted some friends about it; some had one view of 
it and some another ; some wanted this sentence struck out and some 
that, etc. ; and then in the presence of the crowd he asked my opinion 
again and I emphatically said to him: "Lincoln, deliver and publish 
your speech just as you have written it ; it will make you President of 
the United States." Lincoln did deliver it just as he had written it and 
read it to me in our office. Soon after the election was over and Lincoln 
was defeated, hundreds of friends flocked into the office and said to Lin- 
coln: "I told you that that speech would kill you." This mortified 
Lincoln ; he would say to them : "You don't fully comprehend its im- 
portance, but I suppose you all have or will desert me for that speech 


There is one man who will stick to me to the end ; he understands it and 
its importance, and that man is Billy Herndon, my good old and long- 
tried friend." 

Your friend, 


Lincoln had a million of curses from his foolish friends about this 
speech. He hated it and yet he was thoroughly convinced that it was 
the thing in the right time and he lived to see it. 

Spring-field, III., November 11, 1885. 
Friend Weik : 

Mr. Lincoln once had, in an early day, down in Coles County in this 
State, a heavy and a tight law suit. After the trial and before the jury 
had agreed, a question arose in the juryroom as to what was meant by 
the preponderance of evidence; the jury at last came into the court- 
room and said: "We are hung on the question what is meant by the 
preponderance of evidence." The lawyers laughed at the ignorance of 
the jury, but said nothing. The Court put on its dignity and in writ- 
ing, verbose and long, wordy and intricate, instructed the jury as to 
what was meant by the preponderance of evidence. The jury retired to 
the juryroom and, on counting noses, they found that "confusion was 
irorse confounded." Soon they came into the courtroom again and 
said : "May it please the Court, we are hung again on the same ques- 
tion of the preponderance of evidence." The lawyer for the plaintiff, 
by the consent of the Court, tried his hand on an explanation of the 
word to the jury ; he only added darkness to midnight with the stars 
and moon blown out of sight* Mr. Lincoln then asked the Court if he 
might try Ms hand on the question. The Court consented and said to 
Lincoln : "Do try your hand on this question, Lincoln." Lincoln arose 
and said : "Gentlemen of the jury, did you ever see a pair of steel yards 
or a pair of store scales? If you did I can explain, I think, to your 
satisfaction the meaning of the word. If the plaintiff has introduced 
any evidence, put that in the scales and have it weighed. Say it weighs 
sixteen ounces. If the defendant has introduced any evidence in the 
case, put that in the scales ; and if that evidence weighs sixteen ounces, 
the scales are balanced and there is no preponderance of evidence on 
either side. There are four witnesses on each side of this case. If the 


plaintiff's evidence weighs one grain of wheat more than the de- 
fendant's, then the plaintiff has the preponderance of evidence his 
side of the scales go down, is the heaviest. If this defendant's evidence 
weighs one grain of wheat more than the plaintiff's, then the defend- 
ant's side of the scales goes down, is the heaviest ; and that movement 
of the scales tells what is the preponderance of evidence. Now apply this 
illustration to the state of your mind on weighing the evidence for the 
plaintiff and defendant." "We see the point, Abe," said the jury. This 
simple illustration of Lincoln gained his case. The defendant had the 
preponderance of evidence ; rather, the plaintiff did not have it. This 
illustration shows most emphatically that Lincoln struggled to be 
plain to all minds and especially to ignorant ones. This was one of 
his fortes. 

Your friend, 

Springfield, III, November 12, 1885. 
Friend Weik : 

Mr. Lincoln was a peculiar man ; he was intensely thoughtful, per- 
sistent, fearless, and tireless in thinking. When he got after a thought, 
fact, principle, question, he ran it down to the fibers of the tap root, 
dug it out, and held it up before him for an analysis, and when he thus 
formed an opinion, no man could overthrow it ; he was in this particular 
without an equal. I have met Mr. Lincoln of a morning or evening and 
said to him : "Good morning, Mr. Lincoln." He would be so intensely, 
so deeply, in thought, working out his problem, his question, that he 
would not notice me, though his best friend ; he would walk along, his 
hands behind his back, not knowing where he was going nor doing ; his 
system was acting automatically. There was no thought in his actions, 
he only had consciousness. Some hours after he had thus passed me, he, 
on coming to the office, would say : "Billy, what did you say to me on the 
other side of the square this morning as we passed?" I would say: "I 
simply said good-morning to you, Mr. Lincoln." Sometimes this ab- 
stractedness would be the result of intense gloom or of thought on an 
important law or other question. 

I once saw Mr. Lincoln look more than a man ; he was inspired by the 
occasion. There was a man living here by the name of Erastus Wright ; 


he was, his business rather was, to obtain pensions for the soldiers of 
the Revolution's heirs, widows, etc., the soldiers of 1812's widows, 
heirs, etc. An old revolutionary soldier's widow applied to Wright, 
about 184950 to get her pension, which amounted to about $400. 
Wright made out the papers, got the pension, and charged the poor 
widow $200, half of what he got. The poor old woman came into our 
office quite blind, deaf, and on crutches, and stated to Mr. Lincoln her 
case. Lincoln at once sympathized with the woman and said : "Wright 
shall pay you back $100 or more." Lincoln went and saw Wright in 
person. Wright refused to refund. The old woman commenced suit, 
Lincoln giving security for costs. The case finally got before the jury 
with all the facts of the case fully told. Lincoln loomed up, rose up to 
be about nine feet high, grew warm, then eloquent with feelings, then 
blasting as with a thunderbolt the miscreant who had robbed one that 
helped the world to liberty, to Wright's inalienable rights. Lincoln was 
inspired if man was ever inspired. The jury became indignant and 
would have torn Wright up, mobbed in a minute, burst into tears at one 
moment and then into indignation the next. The judge and spectators 
did the same, according to the term that Lincoln gave his eloquence. 
The jury made Wright disgorge all except about $50. 


I write you nothing but what I know is true. Pick out what you like 
and throw the balance to the dogs, am in court and hurried, so ex- 
cuse me. 


Springfield, III., November 13, 1885. 
Friend Weik : 

There were three noted story-tellers, jokers, jesters, in the central 
part of this State especially from 1840 to 1853 : Lincoln of Sangamon 
County, William Engle of Menard, and James Murray of Logan. 
They were all men of mark, each in his own way ; they were alike in the 
line of joking, story-telling, jesting. I knew the men for years. From 
1840 to 1853 this section was not known for a very high standard of 
taste, the love for the beautiful or the good. We had not many news- 
papers ; people in all of these counties would attend court at the re- 
spective county seats. Lincoln, Engle, and Murray would travel 


around from county to county with the court, and those who loved fun 
and sport, loved jokes, tales, stories, jests, would go with the court, 
too, from county to county. People had not much to do at the time, and 
the class of people that then lived here are gone, perished. It was a 
curious state of affairs indeed. As compared with now it was rough, 
semi-barbarous. In the evening, after the court business of the day 
was over and book and pen had been laid [down] by the lawyers, 
judges, jurymen, witnesses, etc., the people generally would meet at 
some barroom, "gentlemen's parlor," and have a good time in story- 
telling, joking, jesting, etc., etc. The barroom, windows, halls, and all 
passageways would be filled to suffocation by the people, eager to see 
the "big ones" and to hear their stories told by them. Lincoln would 
tell his story in his very best style. The people, all present, including 
Lincoln, would burst out in a loud laugh and a hurrah at the story. The 
listeners, so soon as the laugh and the hurrah had passed and silence 
had come in for its turn, would cry out : "Now, Uncle Billy (William 
Engle) , you must beat that or go home." Engle would clear his throat 
and say: "Boys, the story just told by Lincoln puts me in mind of a 
story that I heard when a boy." He would tell it and tell it well. The 
people would clap their hands, stamp their feet, hurrah, yell, shout get 
up, hold their aching sides. Things would soon calm down. There was 
politeness and etiquette in it. Each must have his turn, by comity in 
which to tell his story. The good people would, as soon as quiet reigned, 
cry out : "Now is your time ; come, Murray, do your level best or never 
come here again to tell your stories." Murray would prepare himself 
with his best. At first he would be a little nervous, but he would soon 
gather confidence, rise up, walk about, telling his tale as he moved in 
harmony with his story ; he would tell it well, grandly, and the people 
would sometimes before the story was ended catch the point and raise 
such a laugh and a yell that the village rang with the yells, laughs, and 
hurrahs, etc. Lincoln and Engle now were nervous and anxious for 
their turns to come around. Lincoln would tell his story and then 
followed Engle and then came Murray and thus this story-telling, jok- 
ing, jesting, would be kept up till one or two o'clock in the night, and 
thus night after night t} 11 the court adjourned for that term. In the 
morning we would all be sore all through from excessive laughing the 
judge, the lawyers, jurymen, witnesses, and all. Our sides and back 
would ache. This was a gay time and I'll never see it again. This is or 


was the way we old Westerners passed away our time. We loved fun and 
sport anything for amusement. We had no learning but had good 
common sense with a liberal broad view of things, were generous and 
as brave as Caesar. When court had adjourned in Sangamon County, 
we went to Menard and then to Logan County. This story-telling 
was kept up faithfully from county to county and from term to term 
and from year to year. This custom or habit was our platform, show, 
Negro minstrel was our all in the way of fun. The old knew it, the 
young can't conceive it. Each age has its own sport and so with each 
people. This may seem folly now, but it was real life to us then. All that 
we had to do, all that we could do, was to have j oy and happiness in our 
own way. This old state of society was rude, but it had its virtues ; it 
was sincere and honest. My old settler's speech which I sent you will 
help you to paint the scene. Draw on your imagination and fill up ; it 
will please the people who read the story, people, state of society, etc., 

Pick out what you like and cast away the balance. I have no time to 
elaborate, amplify, etc., nor correct. 

I forgot to say in my Wright story the old revolutionary woman 
story that Lincoln volunteered his services, charged nothing, and 
paid her hotel bill, etc. Correct the error. 

Your friend, 


Springfield, III., November lh 1885. 
Friend Weik: 

As early as 1860 Mr. Lincoln had reason to believe that he would be 
assassinated or that an attempt would be made to do it. On the day 
of the presidential election in November 1860 I went into Mr. Lin- 
coln's office in the State house and said to Lincoln: "Lincoln, you 
ought to go and vote for the State ticket." He replied: "Do you really 
think I ought to vote?" and to which I said: "Most certainly you 
ought. One vote may gain or lose the Governor, Legislature, etc." He 
then remarked : "I guess I'll go, but wait till I cut off the presidential 
electors on the top of the ticket." He then cut off the head of the ticket. 
Col. Lamon and Col. Ellsworth and myself only were in the room. I 
winked to these gentlemen to go along with Lincoln and see him safely 


through the mass of men at the voting place. They understood me. 
Lamon went on the right side of Lincoln, Ellsworth on the left; and 
I at Lincoln's back just behind him. As we approached the voting 
place, the vast mass of men who had gathered to vote and to see Lin- 
coln vote, as it was whispered that Herndon had got Lincoln to vote 
or agreed to do so, opened a wide gap for him to pass on to the voting 
place. The Republicans yelled and shouted as Lincoln approached; 
he was allowed to vote unmolested, and when he had voted and came 
out of the courtroom, the voting place, they again yelled and shouted. 
I must say that the Democrats on that day and place paid about as 
much respect to Lincoln as the Republicans did ; they acted politely, 
civilly, and respectfully, raising their hats to him as he passed on 
through them to vote; they acted nobly on that day and at that place 
and time. Lincoln voted and was glad of it. 

Directly after the Lincoln and Douglas campaign in 1858, soon 
after it was over, he, Lincoln, commenced receiving through the post 
office all manner of odd pictures cut out of newspapers, expressive of 
pain, starvation, sorrow, grief, etc., etc. Frequently threatening let- 
ters were received by him through the post office, all of which he burned 
at the time. The receipt of these showed the animus of the times to Mr. 
Lincoln, He said to me once: "I feel as if I should meet with some 
terrible end" ; and so the great man felt through time and space in- 
stinctively his coming doom. 

Your friend, 


Springfield, III, November 17, 1885. 
Friend Weik: 

In some particulars Mr. Lincoln was a peculiar man. For instance, 
he was very liberal and charitable to his fellow-man and yet he was not 
a generous man in his gifts or with his money ; he had none of the ava- 
rice of the get but had the avarice of the keep. Mr. Lincoln was fully 
aware of the imperfections and faults of the race, and had great char- 
ity for man ; I never heard him abuse anybody nor did I ever, except 
once or twice, hear him eulogize anyone; he attacked no one on the 
stump, because he was aware of his own lowly origin. His motto, in this 
particular, was: "Those who live in glass houses should not throw 


stones." Mr. Lincoln loved such books as Jack Downing, Phcenixiana, 
and Petroleum V. Nasby ; he was a terribly gloomy man and yet he 
loved mirth, because it gave vent to his gloom and his melancholy. I 
have heard him say: "If it were not for these stories, jokes, jests, I 
should die ; they give vent are the vents of my moods and gloom." If 
you were in your office and wished to read anything of interest, just be- 
ware how you talked. If you said much, that much would suggest to him 
a story that he heard on the circuit or down in Egypt, the lower part of 
this State. The thing once suggested, there would be an end of your 
reading. Close the book you must, you couldn't help it ; he would tell one 
story and that would suggest another ; and so the day would roll by 
pleasant or unpleasant to you ; he had no hold up in this particular. 
Tell his stories he would, and read you could not pleasant to you or 
not the mill would grind. Lincoln was not a social man, loved no man 
much, was more or less selfish, was rapt up in his own children, was 
childish in this, a tool or a slave to them, blind to their faults. Mr. Lin- 
coln was Lawyer, Politician, Lecturer, and Inventor. He succeeded in 
the law and in politics, was an utter failure as lecturer and inventor. 
Lincoln sometimes drank liquor, was a good chess-player, loved 
"fives," i.e., to play ball, knocking it up against a wall with the hand, 
two or three men on each side. This letter is purposely miscellaneous 
as you may wish to pitch, throw, such things in your piece. Probably I 
repeat some things, if so excuse me, as I do not keep notes of what 
I write. 

Your friend, 


Springfield, 111., November 19, 1885. 
Friend Weik: 

Mr. and Mrs. Lincoln never lived a harmonious life, and when she 
wanted to go to church or to some gathering, she would go at all 
events and leave Lincoln to take care of the babies. Mrs. Lincoln 
couldn't keep a hired girl because she was tyrannical to her and Lin- 
coln perforce was compelled to look after the children. Of a Sunday, 
Lincoln might be seen, if in summer in his shirtsleeves, hauling his 
babies in a little wagon up and down the pavement north and south 
on Eighth Street. Sometimes Lincoln would become so abstracted that 


the young one would fall out and squall, Lincoln moving on the while. 
Someone would call Lincoln's attention to what was going on; he 
would turn back, pick up the child, soothe it, pacify it, etc., and then 
proceed up and down the pavement as before. So abstracted was he 
that he did not know what or how he was doing and I suppose cared 
less. If the little one fell out and Lincoln was told of it, he would say: 
"This puts me in mind of a story that I heard down in New Salem," 
and then Lincoln would tell his story and tell it well. The man and 
Lincoln would sit down on the curbstone of the pavement and finish 
the forenoon in stories, and when Mr, Lincoln saw Mrs. Lincoln com- 
ing from church she screaming because Lincoln had the child out 
of doors in the fresh air he ran into his room and gently took what 
followed you know, a hell of scolding. Poor Abe, I can see him now 
running and crouching. 

It happened that sometimes Lincoln would come down to our office 
of a Sunday with one or two of his little children, hauling them in the 
same little wagon, and in our office, then and there, write declarations, 
pleas, and other legal papers. The children spoilt ones to be sure 
would tear up the office, scatter the books, smash up pens, spill the ink, 

and p s all over the floor. I have felt many and many a time that 

I wanted to wring their little necks, and yet out of respect for Lincoln 
I kept my mouth shut. Lincoln did not note what his children were do- 
ing or had done. When Lincoln finished his business, he would haul his 
children back home and meet the same old scolding or a new and in- 
tensified one. He bore all quite philosophically. Jesus, what a home 
Lincoln's was ! What a wife ! 

One word about Lincoln's honesty and fairness. Many, many years 
ago one Charles Matheny sold a piece of land to a Mrs. (I forget her 
name) who was Lincoln's client. The number of the acres in the piece 
was guessed at or a great mistake was made. The lines of the survey 
ran east, west, north, and south, but from well-known obj ects to well- 
known objects, called monuments. The price of the land was so much 
per acre and the deed showed the terms of the sale. About the year 1858 
Mr. Lincoln was written to by the lady to have her land surveyed, laid 
off into lots, etc. Lincoln got a compass, chains, etc., and surveyed the 
lands. In running off the land and calculating the number of the acres 
he found that Matheny had lost four or five acres of land in this city 
and that his client had gained it say four or five acres more or less. 


Old man Matheny in the meantime had died, leaving eight or nine chil- 
dren, some of whom had died, leaving heirs, children. Lincoln wrote to 
his client what he had done and what mistakes had been made and ad- 
vised his client that she ought in morals and in law rectify the mistake, 
pay the Matheny heirs what was justly due them according to the acres 
at the original price agreed upon. The woman at first declined to rec- 
tify, but Lincoln wrote her a long letter again, stating what he thought 
was right and just between the parties. Some of the Matheny heirs were 
very poor and needy. Lincoln's last kind and noble letter brought the 
woman to her own sense of right, sent to Mr. Lincoln several hundred 
dollars. Lincoln was a friend to the Mathenys as well as to his client ; 
he took the trouble of hunting up the scattered heirs and their de- 
scendants and paid them every cent that was due them and thus this 
man, noble man, was ever for justice and the eternal right. I hope you 
can make out what I write. Correct, etc., etc. am this minute going to 
court. "Excuse haste and a bad pen," as this poor devil will say. 

Your friend, 


Spring-field, III., November 80, 1885. 
Friend Weik : 

You say that you want one more law case. I can give it to you. 
About 1859 there lived in a village about seventeen miles west of this 
place two young men of the first families. One of the young men was 
named Quinn Harrison, grandson of the Reverend Peter Cartwright. 
The other was named Greek Crafton, a young lawyer who studied 
law with Lincoln and Herndon. Harrison's father was rich, and 
Crafton's father was comparatively poor and yet highly respected. 
The village was in this county and called Pleasant Plains. There 
seemed to be a long-existing feud between the families of Harrison and 
Crafton, at least between the boys, young men about twenty-three 
years of age ; they were young men of promise at that time. The young 
men met in a store in Pleasant Plains one day by accident and some hot 
words passed between the two. Crafton struck and gathered Quinn 
Harrison and threw him. Harrison in the scuffle got out his knife, cut 
and stabbed Crafton fatally; he lived a day or so and died of the 
wound. Harrison was arrested and a grand jury found an indictment 


against Harrison for murder. Lincoln, Logan, and others were em- 
ployed by Harrison. Governor Palmer and the State's attorney prose- 
cuted. The lawyers on both sides were among the ablest in the State. 
The case was one of intense interest all over the county. The case was 
opened and ably conducted on both sides ; every inch of ground was 
contested, hotly fought. All the points of the law, the evidence, prac- 
tice, and general procedure were raised and discussed with feeling, 
fervor, and eloquence. Lincoln felt an unusual interest in young Har- 
rison, as the old man, Peyton Harrison, his father, had often accom- 
modated Lincoln when help was needed. During the trial, which was a 
long one, a complex and a tedious one, the Court, Judge Rice, decided 
a question against Lincoln's views of the law. Lincoln argued the ques- 
tion of the law decided against him with ability, eloquence, and learn- 
ing, as Lincoln had thoroughly studied the case in the facts, procedure, 
and the law. Lincoln submitted to the decision for a considerable time, 
but found that the point decided against him, and a material one, was 
one of the principal turning points of the case. Palmer was pushing his 
victory in the debate to its legitimate conclusion the utter defeat and 
rout of Lincoln and the conviction of Harrison of the crime of man- 
slaughter. Lincoln begged time of the Court to reargue the point. The 
Court granted time. Lincoln prepared himself well with law, came into 
court with an armful of books, and read the authorities plainly sus- 
taining his view of the case. The Court was obdurate, clung to his 
decision, overruled Lincoln's objection, admitted the evidence, etc. 
Lincoln could not stand the absurd decision, for it was absurd and 
without precedent in %fee broad world ; and in his anger he rose up and 
seemed inspired with indignation, mingled with a feeling of pity and 
contempt for the judge's decision. He actually was fired with indigna- 
tion and spoke fiercely, strongly, contemptuously of the decision of the 
Court. Lincoln kept, in his anger and contempt, just inside the walls 
of the law, did not do anything, say anything, that would be a con- 
tempt of court ; he was careful and yet the scoring that he gave the 
Court, through its foolish decision, was terrible, blasting, crushing, 
withering. I shall never forget the scene. Lincoln had the crowd, the 
jury, the bar, in perfect sympathy and accord. The Court's decision 
was ridiculed, scoffed, and kicked out of court. Lincoln was mad, 
vexed, and indignant. When a great big man of mind and body gets 
mad he is mad all over, terrible, furious, eloquent, etc. The Court at 


last was convinced or driven to pretend to believe that its decision was 
wrong, overruled his former decision, sustained Lincoln's views ; and 
so now Lincoln had the field his own way, went to the jury, was able, 
eloquent, powerful, etc. Harrison, through Lincoln's courage, knowl- 
edge of the law and the facts of his case, was honorably acquitted 
the verdict of the jury saying "justified." It was a proud day for 
Lincoln. Lincoln was a grand man, an imposing figure that day, I 
assure you. The Court was actually badgered by Lincoln into its final 
decision of the case. Governor Palmer couldn't stop Lincoln's force 
and eloquence. This was a grand trial and so paint it. 

Your friend, 


Springfield, III., November SI, 1885. 
Friend Weik: 

It seems to me that in your article you should say something about 
Lincoln's nature, qualities, and characteristics ; and so here goes. The 
predominant, the chief, qualities, etc., of Lincoln are as follows : He 
was morally and physically courageous, even-tempered and conserva- 
tive, secretive and sagacious, skeptical and cautious, truthful and 
honest, firm in his own convictions and tolerant of those of others, 
reflective and cool, ambitious and somewhat selfish, kind to all and 
good-natured, sympathetic in the presence of suffering or under an 
imaginative description of it, lived in his reason and reasoned in his 
life. Easy of approach and perfectly democratic in his nature, had 
a broad charity for his fellow-men and had an excuse for unreflec- 
tive acts of his kind, and in short he loved justice and lived out in 
thought and act the eternal right. The above is correct in Lincoln's 
general life. I do not say that he never deviated from his own nature 
and his own rules. His nature, the tendency of it, is as I state. I 
studied Lincoln critically for thirty-odd years and should know him 
well. Lincoln struggled to live the best life possible. This I know. 
Sometimes he fell short of his own ideal, as he has often told me ; he 
has told me facts of his life that were not Lincoln's but poor human 
nature's in Lincoln. I shall never tell them to mortal man and of 
this be sure. Lincoln as a whole was really a most noble man. 


You say that you intend to write two articles : one on Lincoln as a 
lawyer and one as politician. The idea is a good one and I approve of 
it. The fields are broad and good as I see it. 

Your friend, 

I have weighed all my words well before I penned them. 


Springfield, III., December l y 1885. 
Friend Weik: 

You wish to know if Mrs. Lincoln and the Todd aristocratic family 
did not scorn and detest the Hanks and the Lincoln family; and in 
answer to which I yell yes. Mrs. Lincoln held the Hanks tribe in 
contempt and the Lincoln family generally, the old folks, Thomas 
Lincoln and his good old wife. Mrs. Lincoln was terribly aristocratic 
and as haughty and as imperious as she was aristocratic ; she was as 
cold as a chunk of ice. Thomas Lincoln and his good old wife were 
never in this city, and I do not suppose that they were ever invited 
to visit Lincoln's house. Had they appeared, I doubt whether Mrs. 
Lincoln would have admitted them. A young lady by the name of 
Hanks I think Dennis Hanks 's daughter came to this city about 
1853 and went to school here ; she boarded with Lincoln, but this 
created a fight, a fuss, between Lincoln and his wife. This young lady 
married a doctor by the name of Chapman, I think. She and her hus- 
band now live or did live in Charleston in this State ; they are good 
people. While the young lady was here, Mrs. Lincoln tried to make 
a servant, a slave, of her, but, being high-spirited, she refused to 
become Mrs. Lincoln's tool. Mrs. Chapman is a lady ; she and I used 
to correspond about the facts of Lincoln's life, etc. She by nature 
and in soul was a better woman than Mrs. Lincoln. I personally knew 
both. If you tell the story, keep Mrs. Chapman's name private, as 
she would not like it probably. I am glad to know that your eyes are 
open about Dennis Hanks ; he is a grand exaggerator, if not a great 
liar. I believed nothing he told me unless he was rather his story 
was verified by John Hanks, as good a man as ever lived, an honest 
man and a truthful one. I am now busy in court and must dry up for 
a while. As facts come up in my mind, I will send notes to you of what 


I know* You wish to know something of my visit to the abolitionists 
in 1858; will write you about this when I get time. 

Your friend, 


How do you like Lamon's Life of Lincoln generally? It is the 
truest life that was ever written of a man in my opinion. I do not 
agree to all it says. I did not like the 19th chapter in all particulars. 
I think it is the 19th chapter. 

Springfield, III., December 4> 1885, 
To the Editor of the Religio-Philosophical Journal: 

I have carefully read Mr. Poolers l address on Abraham Lincoln, 
published in the Religio-Philosophical Journal of November 28, 
1885. Mr. Poole is a stranger to me, but I must say that he struck 
a rich golden vein in Mr. Lincoln's qualities, characteristics, and 
nature, and has worked it thoroughly and well, exhaustively in his 
special line. 

I know nothing of Lincoln's belief or disbelief in spiritualism. I had 
thought, and now think, that Mr. Lincoln's original nature was 
materialistic as opposed to the spiritualistic; was realistic as op- 
posed to idealistic. I cannot say that he believed in spiritualism, nor 
can I say that he did not believe in it. He made no revelations to me 
on this subject, but I have grounds outside, or besides, Mr. Poole's 
evidences, of the probability of the fact that he did sometimes attend 
here, in this city, seances. I am told this by Mr. Ordway, a spiritual- 
ist. I know nothing of this fact on my personal knowledge. 

Mr. Lincoln was a kind of fatalist in some aspects of his philoso- 
phy, and skeptical in his religion. He was a sad man, a terribly 
gloomy one a man of sorrow, if not of agony. This, his state, may 
have arisen from a defective physical organization, or it may have 
arisen from some fatalistic idea, that he was to die a sudden and a 
terrible death. Some unknown power seemed to buzz about his con- 
sciousness, his being, his mind, that whispered in his ear : "Look out 
for danger ahead!" This peculiarity in Mr. Lincoln I had noticed 
for years, and it is no secret in this city. He has said to me more than 
once : "Billy, I feel as if I shall meet with some terrible end." He did 

i See the letter of January 5, 1886, to Poole. 


not know what would strike him, nor when, nor where, nor how hard ; 
he was a blind intellectual Samson, struggling and fighting in the 
dark against the fates. I say on my own personal observation that 
he felt this for years. Often and often I have resolved to make or get 
him to reveal the causes of his misery, but I had not the courage nor 
the impertinence to do it. 

When you are in some imminent danger or suppose you are, when 
you are suffering terribly, do you not call on some power to come 
to your assistance and give you relief? I do, and all men do. Mr. 
Lincoln was in great danger, or thought he was, and did as you and I 
have done ; he sincerely invoked and fiercely interrogated all intelli- 
gences to give him a true solution of his state the mysteries and 
his destiny. He had great, too great, confidence in the common judg- 
ment of an uneducated people. He believed that the common people 
had truths that philosophers never dreamed of; and often appealed 
to that common judgment of the common people over the shoulders 
of scientists. I am not saying that he did right. I am only stating 
what I know to be facts, to be truths. 

Mr. Lincoln was in some phases of his nature very, very super- 
stitious ; and it may be it is quite probable that he, in his gloom, 
sadness, fear, and despair, invoked the spirits of the dead to reveal 
to him the cause of his states of gloom, sadness, fear, and despair. 
He craved light from all intelligences to flash his way to the unknown 
future of his life. 

May I say to you that I have many, many times thoroughly sym- 
pathized with Mr. Lincoln in his intense sufferings ; but I dared not 
obtrude into the sacred ground of his thoughts that are so sad, so 
gloomy, and so terrible. 

Your friend, 
WM. H. 

Spring-field, III., December 10, 1885. 
Friend Weik: 

Your letter, dated the 6th inst ., is at hand. I am glad that you like 
Lamon's Life of Lincoln ; it is the truest life that was ever written of 
[a] man. I gathered up the facts cautiously carefully and critically. I 
know every person whose name is used in the book, I think. I know who 


were truthful, who were exaggerators, and who were liars, etc. Lamon 
gathered up a few facts. 

Miss Owens is a Kentucky lady, is well educated, came to Illinois 
in 1836-37. Saw Lincoln at Abie's. The lady's name is Mrs. Vincent x 
of Missouri. It is no exaggeration to say that Mrs. Vincent is an ac- 
complished lady. 

The dash of which you speak stands in the place of a woman. I 
cannot in honor answer further. 

Lincoln came to this city in 1837 and from that time to 1843~44< 
he and Speed were quite familiar, to go no further, with the women. 
I cannot tell you what I know, especially in ink. Speed was a lady's 
man in a good and true sense. Lincoln only went to see a few women 
of the first class, women of sense. Fools ridiculed him; he was on this 
point tender-footed. John T. Stuart is dead. Between Lincoln and 
Stuart from 1843 to 1865 there was no good feeling of an honest 
friendship. Lincoln hated some of the ways of Stuart. Lincoln felt no 
jealousy toward Stuart. Stuart did toward Lincoln. Stuart in his 
heart hated Lincoln. John T. Stuart was seventy-seven years of age ; 
he was a weak brother and a shy one, tricky, dodger ; he and Lincoln 
did not agree in politics since 1853. Stuart was intensely pro-slavery, 
L. for freedom. S. and L. were in partnership only about two or three 

Friend Weik, why, my good sir, I have given away twenty years ago 
all my Lincoln letters ; he had not been buried before I was bounced 
for everything I possessed that Lincoln's fingers ever touched. I am a 
weak brother, you know, and I gave till I had nothing to give. You 
should have my letters of Lincoln if I had any, you know. 

Your friend, 


Come and see me and I'll tell you much about men, times, women. 
I'll write to you as I get time ; will write about my visit to Washing- 
ton, etc., etc. 

Spring-field, III., December 16, 1885. 
Friend Weik: 

I have just thought of a new fact, which is as follows : Some time 

i An error. She was Mrs. Vineyard, as explained in the letter of January 1, 1886, 
to Weik. 


about 1855 I went into a bookstore in this city and saw a book, a small 
one, entitled, called, I think, The Annual of Science. I looked over it 
casually and liked it and bought it. I took the book to Lincoln and 
H.'s office. Lincoln was in, reading a newspaper of value; he said to 
me : "Well, Billy, you have got a new book, which is good, I suppose. 
What is it? Let me see it." He took the book in his hand, looked over 
the pages, read the title, introductions, and probably the first chapter, 
and saw at a glance the purpose and object of the book, which were as 
follows : to record, teach, and fully explain the failures and successes 
of experiments of all philosophies and scientists, everywhere, includ- 
ing chemistry, mechanics, etc. He instantly rose up and said that he 
must buy the whole set, started out and got them. On returning to the 
office, he said : "I have wanted such a book for years, because I some- 
times make experiments and have thoughts about the physical world 
that I do not know to be true or false. I may, by this book, correct my 
errors and save time and expense. I can see where scientists and phi- 
losophers have failed and avoid the rock on which they split or can 
see the means of their success and take advantage of their brains, toil, 
and knowledge. Men are greedy to publish the successes of efforts, but 
meanly shy as to publishing the failures of man. Many men are ruined 
by this one-sided practice of concealment of blunders and failures." 
This he said substantially to me with much feeling, vim, and force. The 
last time that he spoke of the book to me he spoke in glowing terms. 
Enclosed I send you a letter of mine, published in the Religio- 
Philosophical Journal of December 12, 1885. 1 

Your friend, 


Springfield, IU. 9 December %3 9 1885. 
Friend Weik: 

Say in the early part of 1858 Mr. Lincoln came into our office in a 
dejected spirit. We passed the compliments of the morning, did some 
necessary and quite important business, etc., etc, Mr. Lincoln sat 
down on the sofa, seemed dejected, melancholic, spoke about politics, 
his chances for Senator, his hopes and his aspirations, spoke of the 

i See the letter dated December 4, 1885. 


dodging and wriggling of Douglas on the Kansas-Nebraska question, 
said kindly : "I think Greeley is not doing me, an old Republican and 
a tried anti-slavery man, right ; he is talking up Douglas, an untrue 
and an untried man, a dodger, a wriggler, a tool of the South once 
and now a snapper at it hope he will bite ? em good ; but I don't feel 
that it is exactly right to pull me down in order to elevate Douglas. 
I like Greeley, think he intends right, but I think he errs in this hoist- 
ing up of Douglas, while he gives me a downward shove. I wish that 
someone could put a flea in Greeley's ear, see Trumbull, Sumner, Wil- 
son, Seward, Parker, Garrison, Phillips, and others, and try and turn 
the currents in the right directions. These men ought to trust the tried 
and true men." This Mr. Lincoln said to me in substance, and I in- 
ferred from it, only inferred it, that Mr. Lincoln wished me to go and 
see these men, and see what I could do in the matter ; he knew that I 
was with the most of these men in constant correspondence, and had 
been for years, long before Lincoln took his advanced anti-slavery 
grounds on the stump. So I bundled up, had plenty of money then, 
never supposing that I should want thereafter, and started east, on 
the inferred hint to see what could be done ; landed in Washington ; 
saw Trumbull, Seward, Sumner, Wilson; stated what I wished of 
them. They were all right and doing all they could to stem the rising 
tide of Douglasism. I then went to New York, saw Greeley, told him 
politely and cautiously my story, said to him that Douglas was a new 
convert, was not to be trusted, was conscienceless, and without polit- 
ical principles or honor, etc. I said to Greeley : 4< You do right in pat- 
ting Douglas on the back, but wrong when you indirectly hit Lincoln, 
a true, real, and long-tried anti-slavery man, in order directly or in- 
directly to overthrow or kill Lincoln. Can you not assist Douglas 
and our cause by helping Douglas without stabbing Lincoln?" We 
had a long conversation, but this is the shell and substance of it. 
Greeley said to me, as I inferred, as I understood it, that he would 
most assuredly assist Douglas in all honorable ways ; that he liked 
Lincoln, had confidence in him, and would not injure him; that he 
would somewhat change tactics, and be careful in the future. Greeley 
was kind to me, introduced me to many of the leading Republicans of 
New York City, had conversations with them about the way things 
were moving. Most of them said: "Greeley is all right, has a string to 


pull, but will in the end show you his intents, etc., and will justify." 
Greeley for some time acted up to the square thing, up to his prom- 
ises as I understood them ; wrote to Greeley that I thought he had 
passed the line, etc. He and I had some hard words, hut at last we 
understood each other. He said something in his paper about me that 
was not correct. I again wrote to Greeley correcting him ; he apolo- 
gized to me through the Tribune, i.e., he explained and withdrew the 
charge, etc. From New York I went to Boston, saw Governor Banks, 
Theodore Parker, Garrison, Phillips, and put them all right, if they 
were not right before, which is more than likely. I was gone about 
one month, returned home, paid my own expenses. I did not then think 
that the trip was necessary at all, but to assure Lincoln, to pacify 
him, to make him feel better, I went, and did all that I could for friend 
Lincoln. When I got home I told Lincoln what I had seen and done, 
gave him my opinion that the trend, tendency, and march of things 
were all in his favor, and that all would come out right side upper- 
most ; he seemed pleased, if not gratified, thanked me most heartily. 
From the time that I saw these mentioned men and hundreds more, 
including many newspapers, etc., I think now that things began more 
and more to work for Lincoln's success. I say I think so, but do not 
know the cause, unless it be my assurance that Lincoln, to the anti- 
slavery cause, was as true as steel, as firmly set as Garrison, etc. 

I saw many anti-slavery ladies, and their heads were stubbornly 
for "Honest Abe." This cheered me, for I knew if the women were for 
Lincoln that Lincoln was the coming man ; many said : "Lincoln is not 
radical enough, but he is a growing man, has a conscience that can be 
educated, and the times will do that, if he has an ear to hear." I had a 
good time of it, was treated well by all persons, saw the cities, etc. . . . 

I may be mistaken in the year in which I went on my trip ; it may 
be I went in 1857 or in 1857-58. Correct me if I am wrong. It is now 
thirty years since I went on the Lincoln business, and I may have 
forgotten much of what was said, when, where, etc., etc. Probably, if 
you will refer to Lamon's Life of Lincoln, it can aid you in dates and 
the like. I may err in some things. 

I am about pumped dry, dry as a sand desert. 

Your friend, 
W. H. 


Springfield, III., December %9, 1885. 
Friend Weik : 

I once had an excellent library which I was compelled to sell because 
I was too poor to hold it. I owed money and sacrificed it to pay my 
debts. I imported books from London, through the house of C. S. 
Francis & Co. When I heard of a good work, I ordered it, English, 
French, or German, if the two latter were translated. I kept many of 
my books in my office, especially the new ones, and read them. Mr. 
Lincoln had access to all such books as I had and frequently read 
parts of the volumes, such as struck his fancy. I used to read to him 
passages in the books that struck me as eloquent, grand, poetical, 
philosophic, and the like. I would talk in my own peculiar vein to 
Lincoln about what I read and thought ; he would like or dislike what 
I read and thought, would discuss the subject with me, sometimes 
animatedly. Sometimes we would get into a philosophic discussion, 
sometimes on religious questions and sometimes on this question and 
on that. It was in the world of politics that he lived. Politics were his 
life, newspapers his food, and his great ambition his motive power. I 
have given you a list of the newspapers that we, one or the other of us, 
took from 1850 to 1861. Now let me give you the kind of books which 
Lincoln had access to and sometimes peeped into. I had all the fol- 
lowing books, i.e., the writers of the works, their names, and the 
books, etc., they write. If I did not have all I had the most of them, 
quite all, and hundreds, if not thousands, of others ; they are as fol- 

Emerson Darwin 

Carlyle Draper 

Parker Lecky 

McN aught Lewes 

Strauss Renan 

Monell Kant 

Beecher Fichte 

Feuerbach Conson [ ?] 

Buckle Hamilton 

Froude Spencer 

I include publications up to 1861 only and the like; took the West- 
minster Review. All the above class of books I purchased as soon as 
out. If in German or French and translated, I sent for and got 


through the house of C. S. Francis & Co. of New York. I kept abreast 
of the spirit of the age till financial troubles overtook me in 187175. 
Since that time I have not read much. My poverty keeps my nose to 
the grindstone and it is now raw. I was of a progressive turn of mind 
and tried to get Lincoln in the same channel of thought. How I suc- 
ceeded, time and criticism can alone tell. If I had any influence with 
him at all, it was along the line of the good, I hope and believe. Pos- 
sibly I have helped the world a little in my way, hope so. I shall never 
state fully or otherwise what I did for Lincoln. I shall never do this 
in writing. I will talk to confidential friends somewhat in a chat, but 
never for use nor publication. I can now see Lincoln, his image before 
me ; it is a sad beseeching look. I feel sad. 

Your good friend, 

Springfield, III., January 1, 1886, 
Friend Weik:, 

In my last letter I gave you a list of books which Lincoln more or 
less peeped into. I forgot some important ones on political economy ; 
they are as follows : Mill's political economy, Carey's political econ- 
omy, social science. McCullough's political economy, Wayland, and 
some others. Lincoln ate up, digested, and assimilated Wayland's little 
work. Lincoln liked the book, except the -free trade doctrines. Lincoln, 
I think, liked political economy, the study of it. I had American and 
English works besides those mentioned above on political economy. 

The following conversation between Lincoln and myself about 1858 
is too good to be lost. One day I somewhat earnestly complained to 
Lincoln that he was not quick and energetic enough in a particular 
case to accomplish our ends and what I thought was needed in the 
case. In a very good-natured way he replied : "Billy, I am like a long 
strong jackknife doubled up in the handle. The extreme point of the 
blade has to move through a wider space before it is open than your 
little short woman's knife, which you hold in your hand, but when the 
jackknife is open, it cuts wider and deeper than your little thing. I am 
six feet two inches high and it takes me a good while to open and to 
act, so be patient with me. To change the figure/' he said, "these 
long convolutions of my poor brain take time, sometimes a long time, 


to open and gather force, but like a long, well-platted, heavy, and 
well-twisted ox lash, when swung around and around high in the air 
on a good whip stalk, well seasoned, by an expert ox-driver and popped 
and cracked and snapped at a lazy ox shirking duty, it cuts to the 
raw, brings blood, opens a gash that makes the lazy ox sting with 
pain, and so, when these long convolutions are opened and let off on 
something, are they not a power and a force in action, as you say? 
You yourself have often complimented me on my force of expression 
and now in part you have the desired why" This Mr. Lincoln said to 
me, and the substance is his and many of the words are his just as he 
used them. 

Lincoln's First Inaugural 

Mr. Lincoln some time in January or February 1861 asked me to 
loan him Henry Clay's great, his best speech in 1850, and likewise 
told me to get him President Jackson's Proclamation against Nulli- 
fication in 1832-33, I think, and the Constitution. I did loan him 
Clay's speech of '50, General Jackson's proclamation, and the Consti- 
tution of the United States. Lincoln was perfectly familiar with 
Webster's reply to Calhoun and Haynes in 1833, I think. Lincoln 
read Webster's reply to Calhoun and Haynes in 18.34-35 in New 
Salem while deputy postmaster under Samuel Hill. Lincoln was 
thoroughly read up in the history of politics of his country. Lincoln, 
as soon as I got him what he wanted, went over to Smith's store on 
the south side of the public [square?], went upstairs above Smith's, 
his brother-in-law, and got his room and then and there wrote his 
first Inaugural. Lincoln thought that Webster's great speech in reply 
to Haynes was the very best speech that was ever delivered. It is my 
opinion that these books and speeches were all the things that he used 
in the writing of his first Inaugural. 

Now about Mrs. Vineyard not Vincent, as I wrote to you. I have 
not heard from her. However, I'll tell you where she lives, if you will 
say to her that I referred you to her and that you are the only man, 
except Lamon, whom I have mentioned her name to. This is the exact 
truth. Mrs. Vineyard, Mary, lives or did live in Western Missouri; 
she must be 78-80 years of age ; she is, if living, an intelligent woman, 
well educated and refined. 

One word about Dennis Hanks. When you see him, ask him, in a 


roundabout way, if Thomas Lincoln was not castrated because of the 
mumps when young. Dennis told me this often and repeated it. Please 
ask the question, won't you, and note it down. 

If you see Mrs. Chapman and the doctor give them ray best respects. 
You had better go down to Farmington in Coles and see Mrs. Moore, 
if living ; she is Lincoln's stepsister, as I remember it. As you live in 
Indiana, you had better go and see Miss Jones of Gentryville. Lincoln 
kept store or worked for Jones. When you come up here, I have an 
idea to suggest to you. 

Excuse this paper and my blunders on it. 

Your friend, 


Spring-field^ III., January 5> 1886. 
Mr. C. 0. Poole. 
My dear Sir : 

In the first part of the nineteenth century a great and noble man 
was born to America specially and to the world generally. His life 
was a grand success and his name stands high up among the moun- 
tain men of the world. Mr. Lincoln thought too much and did too 
much for America and the world to be crammed into an epigram or 
shot off with a single rocket ; he was too close to the touch of the 
divine everywhere and too near to the suggestions and whisperings of 
nature for such quick work, done with a flash. It is said that he was a 
many-sided man. It will take close, severe, and continuous thought 
through an analysis of his character to understand him or give a just 
idea of the man. Mr. Lincoln was a riddle and a puzzle to his friends 
and neighbors among whom he lived and moved. You wish to see this 
puzzle solved and this riddle unriddled. You and the world wish, crave, 
to know the elements of Lincoln's great and honored success. You 
desire, you wish, for a knowledge of the causes of his power and the 
secrets of his success. Having been acquainted with the man for more 
than thirty years, twenty years of which he was known by me closely 
and intimately, I have formed a settled opinion, founded on my own 
observation, experience, and reason, of the man, and the causes of his 
power and the secrets of his success, and I propose to give to the world 
my opinion of them- This is done, first, because the man was hard, very 


difficult to understand, even by his bosom friends and his close and 
intimate neighbors among whom he associated, and, secondly, because 
the reading and thinking world does not know him today. I really and 
dearly wish to aid the good people in forming a good, a correct and 
just opinion of the man. If Mr. Lincoln could speak to me this day, in 
reference to my purpose in writing this letter, he would say : "Tell the 
truth and don't varnish me," and I shall follow its spirit. 

First: Mr. Lincoln's success in life rested on his qualities, charac- 
teristics, and nature, which are as follows : First: he had great reason, 
pure and strong ; he lived in the mind and he thought in his life and 
lived in his thought. Lincoln was a persistent thinker, and a profound 
analyzer of the subject which engaged his attention. Politics were his 
life and his ambition his motive power, newspapers his food. What 
he read he read for a proximate, near end ; he was not a general reader ; 
he was embodied reflection itself; he was not only reflective but ab- 
stracted. These wrought evils on his intellectual and physical sys- 
tem; he was a close, persistent, continuous, and terrible thinker; he 
was self-reliant, self-helpful, self-trustful, never once doubting his 
own ability or power to do anything anyone could do. Mr. Lincoln 
thought, at least he so acted, that there were no limitations to the 
endurance of his mental and vital forces. In his case from a long, 
severe, continuous, and exhaustive study of the subjects which he 
loved, generally taking no stimulative food nor drinks, there followed 
as a consequence physical and mental exhaustion, a nervous morbidity 
and spectral illusions, irritability, melancholy, and despair. Hence, I 
think, comes a little of his superstition. 

Secondly,, Mr. Lincoln had an active, breathing, and a living con- 
science that rooted itself deep down in his very being, every fiber of 
which twisted around his whole nervous system. This conscience of 
his was a positive quality of him, and it sent its orders and decrees to 
the head to be executed there ; it was the court of courts that gave 
final judgments from which there was no appeal, so far as he was 
concerned; he stood bolt-upright and downright on his conscience. 
What that decreed the head and tongue and hands obeyed unhesitat- 
ingly, never doubting its justice. Lincoln lived mostly in the conscience 
and the head ; and these two attributes of his were the two great ones 
of his nature, the ruling and predominant ones of his whole and en- 
tire life. It is thought by some men that Mr. Lincoln was a very 


warm-hearted man, spontaneous and impulsive. This is not the exact 
truth. God has never yet made and it is probable that He never will 
make any man, any creature, all head, all heart, and all conscience. 
His types are of the mixed elements compounded to suit Himself. 
Mr. Lincoln was tender-hearted when in the presence of suffering or 
when it was enthusiastically or poetically described to him; he had 
great charity for the weaknesses of his fellow-man ; his nature was 
merciful and it sprang into manifestations quickly on the presenta- 
tion of a proper subject under proper conditions ; he had no imag- 
ination to invoke, through the distances, suffering, nor fancy to paint 
it. The subject of mercy must be presented to him. The main question 
with Mr. Lincoln was : "Is the thing right, is it just?" ; and if a man 
was the subject of his attention, the question which he put to himself 
was: "What great truth, what principle, do you represent in this 
world?" If the thing was just, he approved of it, and if the man was 
a sham, he said : "Begone." He was a man of great moral and physical 
courage and had the valor and bravery of his convictions and dared 
cautiously to do what he thought was right and just ; he was cautious 
and conservative in his nature, was prudent and wise in his acts, and 
I have often thought over-cautious, sometimes bordering on the timid. 
Sometimes he stood long hesitating between the thought and the deed. 

Thirdly: Mr. Lincoln's heart was sufficiently warm and he [was} 
sufficiently impulsive and spontaneous for the broad field and noble 
sphere of his action, his and the nation's destiny. A governor, a judge, 
a president in office, has not legally much to do with the heart, but 
has all to do with conscience and reason, right and justice as defined 
by law. Had Mr. Lincoln been a man of no will and all heart, this great 
government would have gone to wreck in 1863 or before. Come, was 
not Mr. Lincoln built and organized for the occasion? Was he not the 
right man in the right time, in the right place? Would you have made 
him different ? How would you have grouped the atoms or mixed and 
mingled the elements of his make-up? 

Mr. Lincoln was a sad, gloomy, and melancholic man and wore the 
signs of these in every line of his face, on every organ and every 
feature of it ; they were chiseled deep therein, and now the question 
is: What were the causes of these? The causes were, first, possibly 
heredity, and, secondly, his physical organization. Mrs. Thomas Lin- 
coln, Abraham's own mother, was an uneducated, somewhat rough. 


but by nature an intellectual, sad, and sensitive woman. It is quite 
possible that Mr. Lincoln inherited this sadness and sensitiveness 
from his mother ; he was in some particulars a very sensitive man. It 
is probable that his physical organization, which functioned slowly 
and feebly, gave rise to feelings of uneasiness, nervousness, and irri- 
tability, gloom, melancholy, and despondency, if not sometimes of de- 
spair. Both of these, heredity and organization, may have acted as 
causes. These states, however caused, made him a fatalist in philos- 
ophy and a skeptic in matters of religion. His philosophy was : "What 
is to be will be, and no wish of ours nor prayers can change nor reverse 
the inevitable decree." Lincoln's sad hopeless declaration to his 
friends in Washington, who advised him to be more careful of his 
person in the future than he had been in the past, in substance was : 
"My dear sirs, [if] it is writ, it is writ." The very idea that he was in 
the hands of an invisible, irresistible, and inevitable deaf power which 
moved as an omnipotent force evidently harassed and worried him. 
There are two other minor causes that may have intensified his states, 
his melancholy, and the like ; they were, first , his intense love for, court- 
ship of, and untimely death of, Ann Rutledge, the handsome, sweet, 
and lovely girl of New Salem, and, secondly, his courtship and mar- 
riage to Miss Mary Todd. Lincoln's married life was a domestic hell 
on earth. The whole sad story shall be told sometime. Twice in this 
man's life he walked that sharp and narrow line that divides sanity 
from insanity. 

Men at once, at first blush, everywhere saw that Lincoln was a sad, 
gloomy man, a man of sorrow. I have often and often heard men say: 
"That man is a man of sorrow, and I really feel for him, I sympathize 
with him." This sadness on the part of Mr. Lincoln and sympathy on 
the part of the observer were a heart's magnetic tie between the two. 
This ^esult gave Lincoln a power over men, rather it was self -inspired. 
All men and women always and everywhere treated him under all con- 
ditions with great and profound respect, and a close observer of hu- 
man nature could see, detect, that much of that deep respect issued 
from the heart. Let me translate such acts of respect and deference of 
those who ever saw him into my own words. Those words are : "I be- 
seech you, let me respect and favor you." Men who do not know Mr- 
Lincoln, and never did, have paraded his hardships and struggles in 
his younger days in glowing words, or sad ones. Such an idea, such a 


description of the man, is not exactly true ; he never saw the minute, 
the hour, nor the day that he did not have many financial friends to 
aid him, to assist him, and to help him in all ways. His friends vied 
with each other for the pleasure or the honor of assisting him. Lincoln 
deserved all this respect and confidence ; he was all honor and integ- 
rity, spoke the whole truth and acted it ; he, like all boys in the great 
West as well as elsewhere, had to study in order to learn. Life in his 
case was a comparatively easy life, as compared with the struggles of 
the ambitious young man of the East. There the struggle for life is 
the fiercer. Lincoln was the favorite of everybody man, woman, and 
child where he lived and was known, and he richly deserved it. Lin- 
coln generally rejected all help, his idea, motto, being: "Those who 
receive favors owe a debt of gratitude to the giver and to that extent 
are obedient and abject slaves." 

First, now if the reader will but put these four qualities of Lincoln 
together: first, namely, his great reasoning power with a profound 
judgment, if he had time to fully evolve and apply his ideas to the 
facts of life; secondly, a deep and living conscience, with a tender 
heart in presence of suffering or want ; thirdly, his spirit of prudence 
and his genius for practical sagacity; and, fourthly, a sadness, a 
gloominess, with somewhat of fatalistic ideas in his philosophy and 
skepticism about his religion or beliefs, authority, creeds, and forms 
of religion ; and run them out as causes into his daily life, he will have 
the causes of his power and the secrets of his success. These have influ- 
enced me and thousands, if not millions, of others. I felt these influ- 
ences when he and I were younger, and I feel them now. Because of 
Lincoln's great reason, his conscience, his heart, his sadness, his pru- 
dence and practical sagacities, women, men, the people, and the nation 
voluntarily and trustfully threw themselves into his arms, clothed 
with an almost infinite power, and as calmly and as confidingly and as 
trustfully rested there as when an infant goes to sleep in its mother's 
loving, tender, and watchful bosom. Lincoln deeply impressed this 
trustworthiness upon the people, and they were never deceived ; they 
were an impressible mass and he stamped it deep with the word 

Secondly, Mr. Lincoln continuously lived in three worlds, states, or 
conditions of his existence. First, he lived in the purely reflective 
and thoughtful ; secondly, in the sad, thoughtless, and gloomy ; and, 


thirdly, he lived in the happy world of his own levities. He was some- 
times in the one state and then in another, and at times the transition 
was slow and gradual and at times quick, quick as a flash. Writers, 
respected ones, and biographers have said that Lincoln was a many- 
sided man. If they mean that he was sometimes reflective and thought- 
ful, sometimes thoughtless, and sometimes cheerful and happy, then 
I have no objections to the idea of his many-sidedness. I would suggest 
a better and a more accurate idea, and that is that Mr. Lincoln was a 
manj-mooded man. To form a perfectly true idea of the man, take 
the first four qualities as last mentioned above and the three last 
mentioned and bunch them, and the reader has a true analysis of Lin- 
coln's nature and a good insight into the inner man. Every feeling 
that Lincoln felt, every thought of his, every willing and action of the 
man, issued, burst out of and from the qualities, attributes, and states 
above given. His thoughts were tinged and colored and his acts fash- 
ioned by his moods. These must all be considered and taken as a whole 
when Mr. Lincoln is to be thoroughly understood by anyone. 

Wishing to help the people to understand Mr. Lincoln, they must 
indulge me in a repetition of another idea so as to keep the full train 
of thought in view. He thought, at least he so acted, that there were 
no limitations to the force and endurance of his mental and vital 
powers. In his case, from a long, continuous, severe, persistent, and 
exhaustive thought of the subject which he loved, as a general rule 
taking no stimulative food nor drinks, there necessarily followed, as a 
consequence, physical and mental exhaustion, a nervous morbidity, a 
sadness, a gloom, a melancholy, spectral illusions, irritability, and 
despair. Hence it may be comes his superstition. I state this that men 
see Mr. Lincoln as I saw him and knew him. This is the sole reason. 

In what Mr. Lincoln said he suppressed no fact and suggested no 
falsehood ; he told the truth and the whole truth, and this truthfulness 
and sincerity were written on every organ and feature of the face. 
The observer saw this and firmly and fixedly believed and trusted 
what he saw and felt. I do not wish to be misunderstood. I have said 
and now say that Mr. Lincoln was a secretive, silent, and a very 
reticent-minded man, trusting no man, nor woman, nor child with the 
inner secrets of his ambitious soul. This man was easy of approach 
and perfectly democratic in his nature. No man ? however humble, 
ever felt uneasy in his presence. Lincoln was an odd man, a singular 


man, awkward, uncouth, graceless, and somewhat unsocial. But these, 
to some repulsive, aspects of his nature, like the lesser stars in the 
heavens, were driven into the dark infinite background by the greater 
and brighter flaming ones of his good intents beaming o'er his face. 

This great man, for great he was, has given to the world a great, a 
grand character, and let us all lovingly cherish it forever. Mr. Lincoln 
is a true and faithful expression of this, our age and a good repre- 
sentative of it. Our generation and our times will eloquently speak to 
the great infinite future generations and times, through our good and 
great man, who will teach them our arts, sciences, civilization, and 
philosophies. The good deeds of today will run through the race and 
knit us all together by silver threads, along the lines of which we of 
today and of this generation shall speak through all times and to all 
generations of men. 

Your friend, 

Springfield, El., January 7, 1886. 
Friend Weik: 

I wish to say a few words about Lincoln's education or the prob- 
abilities in him of a college and classical education. Mr. Lincoln was 
by nature a man of peculiarities and of strong individualities. His 
expressions were strong, gnarly, and original ; he had an exact and 
keen perception, the precise seeing of the thing or idea, and had the 
power of expression ; he studied expression, the keen, clear power of 
exact utterance to convey his idea. Had he gone to college and half 
graduated, or wholly so, and before his style was crystallized, or had 
[he] been educated after he had read our rounded, flat, dull artistic 
style of expression, writing or speaking, he would have lost, and the 
world would have lost, his strong individuality in his speech, his style, 
manner, and method of utterance. He would have been a rounded man 
in an artistic way, would have sunk into the classic beautiful. But it so 
happened, was so decreed, that his style, manner, method or utterance, 
expression, its strength, its simplicity, and rugged grandeur, were 
crystallized long before he became acquainted with the smooth, weak, 
and artistic style of today. Lincoln was Lincoln and no one else ; and 
he spoke and wrote in Lincolnisms, PoEsh, art, and literature grind 


down our peculiarities, personalities, and individualities and make us 
alike in expression. We sacrifice strength and grandeur to art and 
beauty. If you remember, I told you that the process, way, of Lincoln's 
mental evolution was through thought to JSsop's fables, through these 
to general maxims, from maxims to stories, jokes, jests, and from these 
to clear, strong Anglo-Saxon words of power. In his mental evolu- 
tion he passed through all these phases. I have heard Lincoln substan- 
tially state this, including the probabilities of the weakening process, 
methods, etc., of a classical or college education ; so I was told this by 
all his friends in Indiana and his early friends in Illinois. 

The flunky, smooth, sickly, weak artistic literature of the day, 
ocean wide and as shallow too, would, like the rising tide and reflow, 
the pulses and surges of the sea, have ground the sharp, jagged, and 
rough corners off the man like the ground pebbles into a round pol- 
ished thing, like the pebbles on the beaches of the ocean, all quite alike. 

Lincoln, you know, was a complete success in law, in politics, and as 
a ruler, as President of the United States ; he was a flat failure as 
inventor, eulogist, and lecturer ; he once tried to demonstrate the un- 
demonstrable ; he thought that he could completely demonstrate, 
square rather, the circle ; he purchased tools, etc., with which to make 
the attempt, but failed. Lincoln was keenly sensitive to his failures, 
and it would not do to mention them in his presence. Mr. Lincoln, 
had he taken up the idea, had he thought it necessary, would have 
taught the graces of motion, civilities of life, etiquettes of society and 
its fashions. Lincoln thought that he could do anything that other 
men could or would try to do ; he had unbounded confidence in himself, 
in his capacities and powers ; he asked no man's advice and sought no 
man's opinion, as a general, quite universal rule. 

These peculiarities and failures show that Lincoln had narrow and 
shallow shoals in the river of his being o'er which the waters danced 
and rippled, but which broke in the flashing sunlight into millions of 
flashing mirrors, reflecting wondrous beauty to the human eye, and 
yet these narrow and shallow shoals only proved that above them and 
below them there were deeper waters all up and down the great stream 
of his grand life that flowed onward and onward to the deep inner 
seas of the Eternal. Such was Lincoln. 

It is now late and in the night, am tired from my daily toil. Will 
you have the kindness to write me out a copy of this and send it to 


me? I have no time to do it, want said copy for a friend in New York. 
So good night, my friend. 

Your good friend, 

Springfield, IZZ., January 8, 1886. 
Friend Weik : 

I have heard Lincoln tell the following facts on himself. In 1850 
Mr. Lincoln was an applicant, under Fillmore's administration, for 
Commissioner of the General Land Office; he made arrangements to 
start for Washington and started from Ramsdell's tavern in this 
city ; he had a companion in the stage, for it was in old stage times, 
who was a gentleman from Kentucky, educated, cultured, and a man 
of accomplishments, but, like all warm and good-hearted men, he loved 
the good and cheerful. The two men, Lincoln and his friend, started 
for Washington early in the morning, eating their breakfast before 
day. After they had got in the stage and had ridden some miles, the 
Kentucky gentleman pulled out of his pocket a small plug of the very 
best tobacco from the "sacred soil of Virginia," and handed it to 
Mr. Lincoln, with a fine tortoise-shell penknife, and said to Lincoln : 
"Stranger, will you take a chew?" and to which Mr. Lincoln said: 
**Thank you, I never chew." The two rode on for some miles. When 
they got near Taylorville, some twenty-five miles from this place and 
east of it, the Kentucky gentleman pulled out a fine cigar case filled 
with the very best and choicest of Havana cigars, opened it, got out 
his lighter, and said to Lincoln : "Please have a fine Havana cigar," 
and to which Mr. Lincoln replied in his kindest manner: "Thanks, 
stranger, I never smoke." The gentleman lit his cigar and very lei- 
surely rode along thumping and bumping over the rough road, smok- 
ing and puffing away, conversing all the while. Lincoln and his Ken- 
tucky companion became very much attached to each other. Lincoln 
had told some of his best jokes and the man had spun out his best 
ideas. They were really much pleased with each other, seemed to fit 
one another. The Kentucky gentleman was graceful and Lincoln 
graceless, but somehow or other they fitted each other like brother 
chums. They rode on merrily and pleasantly for a long, long while to 
them, for it was a tiresome journey. The stand where the two were to 


eat their dinners was being approached, was seen in the distance. The 
Kentucky man threw out of the stage the stub of his cigar, opened his 
satchel or other thing, and took out a silver case filled with the very 
best French brandy, took out the cork, got a silver cup, and handing 
them to Lincoln, saying : "Stranger, take a glass of the best of French 
brandies, won't you?" and to which Mr. Lincoln said: "No, I thank 
you, mister, I never drink." This peculiarity seemed to amuse the 
Kentucky gentleman very much ; he threw himself back against the 
front of the stage and good-naturedly and laughing said : "See here, 
stranger, rather, my jolly companion, I have gone through the world 
a good deal and have had much experience with men and women of all 
classes, and in all climes, and I have noticed one thing " Mr. Lincoln, 
here breaking in anxiously, asked his companion : "What is it, what is 
it?" "It is this," said the Kentucky man. "My observation, my expe- 
rience, is, among men, that those who have no vices have d d few 

virtues." Lincoln was fond of a joke as you know, looked at his friend 
sharply to see if it was a joke or was intended for an insult, intending 
to pitch him out of the stage if it was an insult, and to laugh over it if 
a joke. Lincoln was quickly convinced that the man was good-natured, 
kind, gentlemanly, etc. ; and then he burst out into a loud laugh say- 
ing: "It's good, it's too good to be lost, and I shall tell it to my 
friends." Lincoln really laughed himself tired, kicked out, in fact, the 
bottom of the stage, tore out the crown of his hat by running his 
hand through it, etc., etc. The two friends became bosom ones and 
landed in Washington together. The Kentuckian got what he wanted 
and Lincoln got defeated, etc. 

Your friend, 


Springfield, El., January 8, 1886. 
Friend Weik: 

It was the habit, custom, of Mrs. Lincoln, when any big man or 
woman visited her house, to dress up and trot out Bob, Willie, or Tad 
and get them to monkey around, talk, dance, speak, quote poetry, etc., 
etc. Then she would become enthusiastic and eloquent over the chil- 
dren, much to the annoyance of the visitor and to the mortification 
of Lincoln. However, Lincoln was totally blind to his children's faults., 


After Mrs. Lincoln had exhausted the English language and broken 
herself down in her rhapsodies on her children, Lincoln would smooth 
things over by saying : "These children may be something sometimes, 
if they are not merely rare-ripes, rotten ripes, hothouse plants. I 
have always noticed that a rare-ripe child quickly matures, but rots as 
quickly." Lincoln was proud of his children and blind to their faults. 
He, Lincoln, used to come down to our office on a Sunday when Mrs. 
Lincoln had gone to church, to show her new bonnet, leaving Lincoln 
to care for and attend to the children. Lincoln would turn Willie and 
Tad loose in our office, and they soon gutted the room, gutted the 
shelves of books, rifled the drawers, and riddled boxes, battered the 
points of my gold pens against the stairs, turned over the inkstands on 
the papers, scattered letters over the office, and danced over them and 
the like. I have felt a many a time that I wanted to wring the necks of 
these brats and pitch them out of the windows, but out of respect for 
Lincoln and knowing that he was abstracted, I shut my mouth, bit my 
lips, and left for parts unknown. Poor boys, they are dead now and 
gone ! I should like to know one thing and that is : What caused the 
death of these children? I have an opinion which I shall never state to 
anyone. I know a good deal of the Lincoln family and too much of 
Mrs. Lincoln. I wish I did not know as much of her as I do ; she was a 
tigress. I can see poor Lincoln woman-whipped and woman-carved [ ?] 
and yet sometimes he would rise and cut up the very devil for a while, 
make things more lively and "get." This woman was once a brilliant 
one, but what a sad sight to see her in any year after 1862 and espe- 
cially a year or so before she died ; she refused to see any and all minis- 
ters of the gospel, any preachers, about her hopes of heaven or fear of 
hell, about God or her own salvation. I guess her religion was like her 
husband's, rather infidel, agnostic, or atheistic, etc., etc., according 
to moods or whims. 

You state to me that I am the only one of Lincoln's friends, con- 
temporaries, that is willing to tell anything or much about Lincoln 
or his family. There are two good reasons for this : first, he was well 
and perfectly known by many, and, secondly, he trampled too often 
and too hard on the toes of those who did know him. Lincoln out- 
stripped his contemporaries and companions and they feel a terrible 
jealousy against the man who overheaded, outstripped them. I have 
seen this meanness often. I have often said to you that Lincoln was 


terribly ambitious and to that extent he was egoistic, selfish, cold. The 
ruling people here, say from 1856 to 1861, do not, as I think, do 
right ; they are mum about him except they are forced to say some- 
thing good of him occasionally. The people, the middle-class, worship 
Lincoln, and the very bottom class blindly fall in the currents. I feel 
it my duty to state to all people my ideas of Lincoln and my knowledge 
of the facts of his life so far as I know them. This is my religion, has 
been for twenty years, and will be probably for ten more years. I want 
the world to know Lincoln. 

Your friend, 


Spring-field, Itt., January 9, 1886. 
Friend Weik: 

Justice North of this city was once in St. Louis hunting up an 
auctioneer. North kept in this city an auction room and wanted a 
number one auctioneer, a practical and a good one. Some gentleman 
in St. Louis recommended one Charles Lewis, if I have not forgotten 
the name; he was somehow a nephew of Mrs. Lincoln or probably 
other relative. North and Lewis made a contract. Lewis came up to 
this city as North's auctioneer; he had money and asked no favors, 
got $60 per month from North for his services. As soon as he landed 
here, he as a relative of Mrs. Lincoln thought it his duty to call on his 
aunt. So he went to see her, knocked at the door, was coldly admit- 
ted, told Mrs. Lincoln who he was, etc., etc. Mrs. Lincoln's avarice at 
once arose and she told the young gentleman in coarse, cruel, and 
brutish language that she did not wish her poor relatives to pile them- 
selves on her and eat her up. The young man tried to explain to her 
that out of respect he had called to see her, said he had plenty of 
money and had a good position and did not need her charity and did 
not deserve her coarse, savage, and brutal language ; he quickly left 
the house, deeply mortified, leaving Mrs. Lincoln in one of her 
haughty, imperious, and angry states. When Mr. Lincoln returned 
home in about two hours, he at once saw that Mrs. Lincoln was stand- 
ing square on her ears. Lincoln asked Mrs. Lincoln what was the 
matter; she told him; he knew that she had acted the fool and the 
savage. Mr. Lincoln instantly went down to North's auction room, 


expecting to find rather a rough young [man] but unexpectedly 
he found a rather accomplished fellow in order to apologize to the 
young man for the cruel treatment he had received at the hands of his 
wife. The young man made his statement to Lincoln ; Lincoln at once 
saw how it stood, apologized to the young man, talked to him tenderly 
and in a fatherly way, offered to assist him in all ways, loan him funds, 
if the young man needed it, invited him to his house, etc., etc. The 
young man thanked Mr. Lincoln and told him that he did not need his 
assistance, but was much obliged to him, etc. ; he never went to see 
Mrs. Lincoln again. The young man was heard to say : <tf Uncle is one 
of the noblest of men, but Aunt (or Cousin) is a savage." This story 
illustrates the difference between Lincoln and Mrs. Lincoln. This was 
about 1858, probably 1860. Lincoln as a general rule dared not invite 
anyone to his house, because he did not know what moment she would 
kick Lincoln and his friend out of the house. This woman was to me a 
terror, haughty, poor when she married Lincoln, imperious, proud, 
aristocratic, insolent, witty, and bitter; she was a gross [?] material 
woman as she appeared to me. Look at her picture and you can see 
what I have seen. In her domestic troubles I have always sympathized 
with her. The world does not know what she bore and the history of 
the bearing. 1 will write it out some time. This domestic TieU of Lin- 
coln's life is not all on one side. I do not and cannot blame Lincoln, 
and do not wish you to suppose that I could censure him, for I could 
not. Wait patiently for all the facts. Mrs. Lincoln acted out in her 
domestic relation the laws of human revenge ; this is somewhat of my 
meaning, sit still and * Vait for the glory of the Lord." 

You will please take my notes, called letters, just as they are. I 
have no time to read them and correct them. When you copy all or 
parts, please correct. I have to write in a run and a rush, as you know 
the facts of my business and the conditions of my life. I have to strug- 
gle today for my tomorrow's bread. 

Your friend, 

Springfield, ltt., January 9, 1886. 
Friend Weik : 

I know a man now living, or did live, in Menard County ; he, if living, 


must be eighty 1 years of age. The name of the man is Mentor Graham ; 
he was an intelligent man, a good and a truthful man, and yet in some 
things he was "sorter cranky.' 5 About the year 1817 he was traveling 

from to Elizabethtown, Kentucky. In passing from to the 

latter place he saw at a little place a crowd of men, stopped, hitched 
his horse, and went among the crowd, soon found out that a man had 
killed his wife. Persons were expressing their horror of the act. Soon 
after Graham had stopped Thomas Lincoln and his boy Abraham 
came along and stopped, went among the crowd, found out what was 
the matter, had some conversation with the crowd, and now comes the 
nib of this letter. After all the people had expressed their ideas, one of 
the men said to Abraham : "My little boy, what do you think of such a 
deed?" The boy studied a moment, and gave a terse and eloquent idea 
of the cruel deed. Graham says that the boy was very sad, that his 
language was eloquent and feeling for one so young. The remarks 
which he made astonished all present, were pronounced good, plain,, 
terse, and strong, and says Graham : "I have now known Mr. Lincoln 
for more than fifty years and I can see the same trait of character and 
the same style now in Lincoln that I did in 1817 in Kentucky; he 
studies to see the subject matter clearly and to express it tersely and 
strongly. I have known him down here in Menard study for hours the 
best way of any of three to express an idea ; he was a strong man and 
an honest one. I knew Lincoln's relatives way back in 1802-4. Thomas 
Lincoln was a blank, but a clever man, a somewhat social creature. 
How he raised such a boy as Abe the Lord only knows." 

The above I know to be true so far as this : Lincoln always strug- 
gled to see the thing or the idea exactly and to express that idea in 
such language as to convey that idea precisely. When a young boy 
he read pretty much all the books in the neighborhood, and they were 
not more than a dozen. If he found anything worthy of his thoughts, 
he would write it down, commit it to memory, then analyze it while 
he held it firmly in consciousness, in his mind. When this was done, he 
would tell it o'er and o'er to his stepmother and friends ; and I can say 
the same thing with this addition : that he used to bore me terribly by 
his methods, processes, manners, etc., etc. Mr. Lincoln would doubly 
explain things to me that needed no explanation. However, I stood 
and took it out of respect for the man ; he was terribly afraid that I 

i Herndon must have meant ninety. 


did not understand him when I understood even his thoughts at it. 
Lincoln despised "glittering generalities'* and even hated the man 
that used them. Mr. Lincoln was a very patient man generally, but 
if you wished to be cut off at the knee, just go at Lincoln with ab- 
stractions, glittering generalities, indefiniteness, mistiness of idea or 
expression. Here he flew up and became vexed and sometimes foolishly 
so ; his mind was so organized that he could not help it, and so we 
must excuse him. Lincoln's ambition in this line was this : he wanted 
to be distinctly understood by the common people ; he used to say to 
me: "Billy, don't shoot too high, shoot low down, and the common 
people will understand you ; they are the ones which you wish to watch, 
at least they are the ones whom you ought to reach. The educated 
ones will understand you anyhow. If you shoot too high, your bullets 
will go over the heads of the mass, and only hit those who need no 
hitting.' 5 This Lincoln has said to me many times when I was on the 
stump or at the bar, or writing leaders for our newspapers, which I 
did from 1854 to 1861, advocating Liberty and Lincoln. 

Your friend, 


Springfield, IU. 9 January 11, 1886. 
Friend Weik : 

You wish to know more about Lincoln's domestic life. The history 
of it is a sad, sad one, I assure you. Many and many a time I have 
known Lincoln to come down to our office, say at 7 a.m., sometimes 
bringing with him his then young son Bob. Our office was on the west 
side of the public square and upstairs. The door that entered our 
office was, the up half, of glass, with a curtain on the inside made of 
calico. When we did not wish anyone to see inside, we let down the 
curtain on the inside. Well, I say, many and many a time have I known 
Lincoln to come down to our office, sometimes Bob with him, with a 
small lot of cheese, crackers, and "bologna" sausages under his arm; 
he would not speak to me, for he was full of sadness, melancholy, and 
I suppose of the devil ; he would draw out the sofa, sit down on it, 
open his breakfast, and divide between Bob and himself. I would as a 
matter of course know that Lincoln was driven from home, by a club, 
knife, or tongue, and so I would let down the curtain on the inside, go 


out, and lock the door behind me, taking the key out and with me. I 
would stay away, say an hour, and then I would go into the office 
on one pretense or another, and if Lincoln did not then speak, I did 
as before, go away, etc. In the course of another hour I would go back, 
and if Lincoln spoke, I knew it was all over, i.e., his fit of sadness, etc. 
Probably he would say something or I would, and then he would say: 
"Billy, that puts me in mind of a story," he would tell it, walk up and 
down the room, laughing the while, and now the dark clouds would 
pass off his withered and wrinkled face and the God-blessed sunshine 
of happiness would light up those organs o'er which the emotions of 
that good soul played their gentle dance and chase. Friend, I can see 
all this now acting before me and am sad. 

Your good friend, 

Springfield, III., January 15, 1886. 
Friend Weik: 

There was a curious streak in Lincoln and it was that of a seeming 
ingratitude. Lincoln came to this city in 1837, and Joshua F. Speed 
gratuitously took him into his room, gave him bed and house room, 
etc. William Butler was a man of some wealth for the time, was suc- 
cessful in business, was making money, etc. ; he took Lincoln to his 
house, gave him a bed, sleeping room, and boarded him from 1837 to 
1842, when Lincoln got married to Miss Todd, tJie "female wildcat of 
the age. Butler was a Whig and so was Lincoln. Butler did not charge 
Lincoln one cent for the board for years, lodging, etc., etc. Butler 
saw in Lincoln a gloom, a sadness, melancholy, etc., and deeply sympa- 
thized with him, wanted to help him. Lincoln is painted by men who 
do not know him as having a hard time of it in his struggles for 
existence, success, fame. This is all bosh, nonsense. No man ever had 
an easier time of it in his early days, in his boyish, in his young> 
struggles than Lincoln ; he had always had influential and financial 
friends to help him ; they almost fought each other for the privilege 
of assisting Lincoln ; he was most certainly entitled to this respect. 
I have watched men and women closely in this matter. Lincoln was a 
pet, a faithful and an honest pet in this city ; he deserved it. Lincoln 
was a poor man and must work his way up ; he was ambitious, fired by 


it ; it eclipsed his better nature, and when he used a man and sucked 
all the uses out of him, he would throw away the thing as an old orange 
peeling. This was not always the case, probably not Lincoln's general 
rule. Lincoln was elected to Congress in 1847, I think ; he had some 
patronage to bestow and his old friend Butler applied to him for the 
office of the Register or receiver of public monies in this city. There 
was another applicant for the same office by the name of King, a kind 
of worthless man, in my opinion, and Lincoln gave the office to King 
over the head of Butler. Butler and Lincoln did not speak for years. 
Butler opposed Lincoln in all his aspirations for office from 1847 till 
about 1858. Butler frequently with others defeated Lincoln's schemes. 
Lincoln thought it best for himself to bury the hatchet, as I suppose. 
Lincoln was again, say in 1862-63 approached by Butler for an 
office, and Lincoln did give it to him, and out of which he made a 
fortune. Such are the tricks and ways of politicians in this world. . . . 
I saw Judge Matheny this morning and asked him his remembrance of 
the facts, and he remembers it substantially as I do, and as stated 
herein. History, if it is worth writing, is worthy of true writing and so 
I give you this note. I hope that you may never be a politician, pray so. 

You may think that because I cut men, state the truth of them, 
that I am a soured disappointed man, and in thus thinking you are 
mistaken. I never was ambitious along the lines of politics, and on this 
line even I have been successful. My ambition was not for office, nor 
money, nor fame. My ambition in this lif e was to be an intelligent man, 
and a doer of good to my fellow-man. Today I am a progressive and 
an advanced little thinker, a reformer, an optimist, an altruist, be- 
lieving in an infinite Energy, Universal Soul, God, in universal in- 
spiration, revelation sons of God. I am credulous to this extent, am 
broad and generous in my views. This infinite energy has no pets, 
rules mind and matter by laws, absolute, universal, and eternal. Now 
you have my philosophy and religion.*! am today under my beliefs a 
contented and a happy man, and always have been and expect, hope, 
to remain so. 

It seems to me that I have written to you enough matters to make 
a respectable Life of Lincoln. I feel that I am about pumped dry. 
However, I shall continue to send you well-authenticated facts and 
only such. Had you not better change your plans and issue a little 
Life of Lincoln yourself? Answer this last idea. We have had a 


terribly cold snap; weather lias changed and it is now snowing. 

Your friend, 

Spring-field, III., January 16, 1886. 
Friend Weik : 

Your kind letter, dated the 12th inst., is just handed to me, and 
in reply to past would say that I never told you that Mrs. Lincoln 
wanted to marry Douglas. I did say to you that Douglas wanted to 
marry Mrs. Lincoln when a girl. Mrs. Lincoln, when a girl, was 
courted by Douglas and Lincoln at the same time. Mrs. Lincoln was 
a keen observer of human nature, an excellent j udge of it, none better; 
she was a terrible woman, but I must give her credit for a keen insight 
into men and things. Had Jiell not got into her neck she would have 
led society anywhere ; she was a highly cultured woman, witty, dash- 
ing, pleasant, and a lady, but hell got in her neck, which I will explain 
to the world sometime, if I live. This will be a curious history. When 
all is known, the world will divide between Mr. Lincoln and Mrs. Lin- 
coln its censure, as I believe. Mrs. Lincoln saw in Mr. Lincoln honesty, 
sincerity, integrity, manliness, and a great man in the future. Mrs. 
Lincoln saw in Douglas a rake and a roue by nature, a demagogue and 
a shallow man. This I know. Probably I know too much of all these 
things. Mrs. Lincoln chose Lincoln, and the choice showed her insight 
and her wisdom. I know the whole story from beginning to end. I know 
that Mrs. Lincoln acted badly, but hold your opinion for a while. I 
have always sympathized with Mrs. Lincoln. Remember that every 
effect must have its cause. Mrs. Lincoln was not a she-wolf, wildcat, 
without a cause. 

I am glad that you save and have saved all things written to you 
by me. I want them saved, because they will have much in them proba- 
bly that the world will want. I am willing to be tested by them during 
all coming time, by the severest criticism. If I misrepresent willfully, 
the world will know it ; and if I am honestly mistaken, the world will 
know that ; and if I am true, they will know that too. We cannot escape 
criticism if we are worthy of it. 

Your friend, 



In a day or so "will write you more about Lincoln's domestic re- 

January 16, 1886. 
Friend Weik: 

Let me give you an exact idea of Miss Todd, Mrs. Lincoln after- 
wards. I said to you and now say to you that, when Mrs. Lincoln was 
a young and unmarried woman, she was rather pleasant, polite, civil, 
rather graceful in her movements, intelligent, witty, and sometimes 
bitter too ; she was a polished girl, well educated, a good linguist, a 
fine conversationalist, was educated thoroughly at Lexington, Ken- 
tucky ; she was poor when she came here about 1839, a little proud, 
sometimes haughty. I have met Miss Todd many times at socials, 
balls, dances, and the like, have danced with her. I think that Miss 
Todd was a very shrewd girl, somewhat attractive; she discreetly 
kept back the fundamentals, the groundwork of her organization; 
she was a shrewd girl and a sharp one, a fine judge of human nature 
and of the appropriateness of conditions. However, after she got 
married she became soured, got gross, became material, avaricious, 
insolent. The wolf, I guess, was in her when young and unmarried, but 
she unchained it, let it loose, when she got married. Discretion when 
young kept the wolf back for a while, but when there was no more 
necessity for chaining it, it was unchained to growl, snap, and bite 
at all. But remember that in finite things, that every effect has its 
appropriate cause. Keep your judgment open for subsequent facts. 

I intended to say that, in the Butler note, Butler gratuitously, 
freely, and without charge boarded Lincoln from 1837 to 184*2, when 
Lincoln got married. I think that in my hurry I forgot to state this 
fact distinctly. I now say it. The reason why Lincoln appointed, had 
King appointed, was that King lived in a northern county in this 
State. This county Lincoln wanted and King could carry it. Butler 
lived in this county and couldn't be of any use north to Lincoln. Hur- 
rah for politics and politicians. Politics rob us of our better nature 
and politicians rob us of our money, etc. Hurrah for politics and 

Your friend, 



Religiously private. H. 

Spring-field, IlL, January 19, 1886. 
Friend Weik : 

You once asked me for a history of Lincoln's paternity and, as I 
remember it, I promised to give it to you sometime, if I had the time 
to do it. The facts are about as follows : Lincoln once told me that 
his mother Nancy Hanks was the illegitimate child of a Virginia 
planter; he told me never to tell it while he lived, and this I have 
religiously kept and observed. This is one fact in the chain of infer- 
ences. Thomas Lincoln, the father of Abraham, in the spring of 1805 
commenced going to see Sally Bush ; he courted this finely developed 
and buxom girl ; she refused him, did not at all reciprocate his love. 
This lady, whom I knew, was far above Thomas Lincoln, somewhat 
cultivated and quite a lady. Mr. Lincoln, Thomas, then say in the 
summer of 1806 ^commenced going to see Nancy Hanks, Abraham's 
mother. Nancy Hanks accepted Thomas Lincoln's hand; they were 
actually married in Washington County, Kentucky. The marriage 
took place September 23, 1806, and the first child born to Mrs, Lin- 
coln was on the tenth day of February 1807, a little less than five 
months from the day of the marriage. This is the second fact which 
you must carry along in order to draw correct inferences. About 
1815 one Abraham Enloe was caught by Thomas Lincoln in such 
relations and under such conditions with his wife that he was con- 
vinced that his wife was not, like Caesar's wife, above suspicion. Thomas 
Lincoln jumped on and into Enloe for what he had been doing, as 
Lincoln supposed. Lincoln bit off Enloe's nose in the terrible fight. 
This is fact number three. Lincoln, Thomas, was so annoyed with En- 
loe's visits and conduct that he was driven from Kentucky ; he moved 
from there, to Indiana, about 181617. While Mrs. Lincoln bred like 
a rat in Kentucky, she had no more children in Indiana, This is fact 
number four. Mrs. Lincoln died about 181819 in Indiana. In about 
one year thereafter Thomas Lincoln went back to Kentucky to see 
Sally Bush, who had in the meantime say in 18078 married to 

one Johnston. Johnston and Mrs. Johnston had two children or 

more. I knew them both. Johnston died about the time that Mrs. Lin- 
coln did one died in Indiana and the other in Kentucky. Miss Bush, 
now Mrs. Johnston, was a finely developed woman and so was Mrs. 
Lincoln. The reputation of Mrs. Lincoln is that she was a bold, reck- 


less, daredevil kind of a woman, stepping to the very verge of pro- 
priety : she was badly and roughly raised, was an excellent woman and 
by nature an intellectual and sensitive woman. Lincoln, Abraham, 
told me that his mother was an intellectual woman, sensitive and some- 
what sad. I distinctly remember what Lincoln told me and the cause 
of the conversation. Lincoln said to me on that occasion' this : "All 
that I am or hope ever to be I got from my mother, God bless her** ; 
and I guess all this what Lincoln told me was the truth. Thomas 
Lincoln went back to see Mrs. Johnston, as said before, and they were 
married in Elizabethtown, Kentucky, about the year 1819. Remem- 
ber that Mrs. Johnston had children by Johnston. This is a fifth fact. 
Mrs. Johnston, now Mrs. Lincoln, went to Indiana with Thomas and 
there had no children while in the prime and glory of her good life; 
she was a good woman, a kind, clever, and polite one. I knew her. Mrs. 
Thomas Lincoln, his second wife, now took possession of things in 
Indiana, dressed up, taught, and kindly cared for Thomas Lincoln's 
two children by his first wife Abraham and Sarah. Mrs. Lincoln, 
Thomas's second wife, had no more children while in Indiana, though 
she bred, had children, in Kentucky by Johnston. Here is the sixth 
fact. The two [children] by his first wife and the two by his last wife 
Johnston the father were raised up together and actually loved 
one another. In other words Lincoln had two or three children by his 
first wife, and none by his last. Mrs. Johnston had two or three children 
by her first husband and none by Thomas Lincoln. The four children 
were raised up, vegetated together. 

In addition to all the above facts, or supposed ones f or I give no 
opinion Dennis Hanks told me that Thomas Lincoln, when tolerably 
young, and before he left Kentucky, was castrated. Abraham Enloe 
said, often said, that Abraham Lincoln was his chUd. All these facts, 
if facts they are, I received from different persons, at different times 
and places. I reduced much to writing at the time, have letters on the 
subject from Kentucky and some of the facts I remember, i.e., I well 
remember what was told me, though I did write all down. 

Now let me give you something on the other side. The clerk of th& 
court of Elizabethtown Winterbottom, I think is his name wrote 
to Mr. Lincoln in 1859-60 something about his mother, and Lincoln 
said in reply : "You are mistaken in my mother." I have seen Lincoln's 
letters to the clerk, whatever may be his name. The clerk and I cor- 


responded some little, but I may miss his name. Here is the whole 
story as it has been told to me, and I give you no opinion of fact nor 
inference. You must judge for yourself. It's a curious story, and 
may all be true. 

Your friend, 


Please send me an exact copy of this, breaking it into paragraphs 
if you can. 


Keep this religiously private. H. 

Spring-field, III., January %3, 1886. 
Friend Weik: 

... I have read the Allen letter and know all about it. Allen was 
a great blow, a suggestor, a wild exaggerates, and somewhat of a 
1 r. Mr. Lincoln knew the man and shot off his caricature, bur- 
lesque of Allen. Lincoln, when he wrote the letter, was in one of his 
best joking moods. Did you take it as all done in good faith? Allen's 
idiotic son, weak-minded son rather, after his father's death and not 
knowing the facts as well as the people here, the old settlers, pub- 
lished the letter, a most foolish thing. Had he consulted friends, his 
father's old ones, it, the letter, would never have seen the light. 

I wish to state some facts about Lincoln's domestic relations which 
I do not want to be forgotten. About the year 1857 a man by the 
name of Barrett was passing along Eighth Street near Lincoln's 
house ; he saw a long, tall man running and saw a little low, squatty 
woman with a butcher knife in her hand in hot pursuit ; he looked and 
saw that Lincoln was the man and Mrs. Lincoln was the woman. 
Lincoln's house on Eighth Street fronts westward. He ran eastward 
down the walk in his own lot. Stephen Whitehurst lived in the same 
block. His house fronted east, the house being east of Lincoln's. The 
consequence is that the back doors looked into each other. White- 
hurst was on that day Sunday if I recollect the time, the day- 
standing in the back door of his own house and saw what happened. 
Lincoln ran down the walk in his own lot but, seeing the people com- 
ing from church or going to it, he stopped short and quick and 
wheeled around, caught Mrs. Lincoln by the back of the neck and at 
the seat of her drawers, carried or pushed her squealing along the 


walk back to the house Lincoln's house got her to the door of the 
kitchen, opened it, pushed her in, at the same time, to use Whitehurst's 
expression, gave her a hell of a slap on her seat, saying to her : "There 

now, stay in the house and don't be a d d fool before the people." 

Again in the winter of 1857 the Supreme Court was in session and 
Lincoln had an important suit to argue. He came in the clerk's office, 
the law library room too ; his nose was plastered up, fixed up with 
court plaster. Now for the facts. Lincoln had on the day before 
become somewhat abstracted, thoughtful, and let the fire in Mr. and 
Mrs. Lincoln's sitting room nearly die out. Mrs. Lincoln came to the 
door of the sitting room from the kitchen and said: "Mr. Lincoln, 
put some wood on the fire." Lincoln did not hear her and neglected 
the repair of the fire. Mrs. Lincoln came to the sitting room again and 
said: "Mr. Lincoln, mend up the fire," it having got low down. Lin- 
coln did not hear Mrs. Lincoln ; she came in again and picked up a 
stick of wood and said : "Mr. Lincoln, I have told you now there three 
times to mend the fire and you have pretended that you did not hear 
me. I'll make you hear me this time," and she blazed away at Lincoln 
with a stick of stovewood and hit him on the nose and thus banged it 
up. Someone in the courtroom asked Lincoln what was the matter; 
he made an evasive reply in part to the question. Lincoln's girl stated 
this, if others did not know it. From what I know of the facts, it is 
more probable that it is true than untrue. I believe it ; it went around 
among the members of the bar as true. Many such quarrels did take 
place between Lincoln and his wife. Lincoln's domestic life was a home 
hell on this globe. 

Your friend, 

Springfield, III., February 18, 1886. 
Friend Fowler: 1 

It may help you to understand Lincoln somewhat thoroughly by 
stating to you his philosophy. Mr. Lincoln believed that what was 
to be would be, and no prayers of ours could arrest or reverse the 
decree ; he was a thorough fatalist, and thought the fates ruled the 
world; he believed that the conditions made the man, does make the 

x Probably the Senator Fowler referred to in Herndon's letter of October 5, 


man; he believed that general, universal, and eternal laws governed 
both matter and mind, always and everywhere. 

This philosophy as a whole will account for much of the facts and 
laws of his splendid life. Things that were to be, would be, and hence 
he patiently waited on events; his charity for men, their feelings, 
thoughts, willings, and acts sprang out of his philosophy, that condi- 
tions made them ; his want of malice sprang out of the same. Lincoln 
neither hated nor did he love ; he never but once or twice eulogized 
men, nor did he ever curse them. Men were mere tools in the hands of 
fate, were made as they are made, by conditions ; and to praise or 
blame men was pure folly. Men were not entitled to credit for what 
they were or did, what they thought or said, how they felt or acted. 
The thing was to be, and no prayers of ours could arrest or avert the 
decree; men are made by conditions that surround them, that have 
somewhat existed for a hundred thousand years or more. 

Man is compelled to feel, think, will, and act by virtue and force of 
these conditions ; he is a mere child moved and governed by this vast 
world machine, forever working in grooves, and moving in deep-cut 
channels ; and now what is man ? He is simply a simple tool, a cog, a 
part and parcel of this vast iron machine that strikes and cuts, grinds 
and mashes, all things that resist it. The fates had decreed it and 
what they decreed is irresistible and inevitable. Here human prayers 
are blank absurdities. What a man is, he is because of the great 
world's eternal conditions, and is entitled to no credit for virtue nor 
should he be blamed for vice. "With malice toward none and charity 
for all" I live for men was Lincoln's feelings, thoughts, wills, and 
acts. Man does but what is commanded by his superiors. 

Lincoln used to quote Shakespeare's philosophy : 

There's a divinity that shapes our ends, 
Rough-hew them how we will. 

If a man did him an injury, or grievous wrong, the man was a 
mere tool and obeyed the powers ; and if the man did him a great good, 
blessed him and made him happy, still he but obeyed orders, and he 
was not to be censured for the wrong nor praised for the right. Every- 
thing, everywhere, is doomed for all time. If a man was good or bad, 
small or great, and if virtue or vice prevailed, it was so doomed. If 
bloody war, deathly famine, and cruel pestilence stalked over the 


land, it was to be and had come, and to mourn for this, to regret it, 
to resist it, would only be flying in the face of the inevitable. 

Lincoln was patient and calmly waited on events ; he knew that they 
would come in their own good and appointed time; he was not sur- 
prised at their coming nor astonished at their extent, nor depth, nor 
fury. The fates and the conditions were the powers. Laws ruled every- 
thing, everywhere, both matter and mind from the beginning to the 
end, if there was a beginning and an end. 

Such was Lincoln's philosophy; he was in religion a Liberal 
naturally and logically so. Do not misunderstand me probably 
Lincoln did not believe that Brutus was specially made and ordered 
to kill Caesar with a dagger in the Senate Chamber ; and yet he fully 
believed that Brutus and Caesar stood in the line of the rush of the 
forces of nature let loose millions of years ago and let go at full play. 

I hope that these remarks will assist you in finding Lincoln, the real 
man as he lived among us. 

You spoke in your eloquent letter of Emerson and Lincoln; they 
differed widely. Emerson had the genius of the spiritual and ideal; 
Lincoln had the genius of the real and the practical. Emerson lived high 
among the stars ; Lincoln lived low among men. Emerson dreamed ; 
Lincoln acted. Emerson was intuitional ; Lincoln reflective. Both were 
Liberals in religion and were great men. 

Your friend, 


Springfield, III., April 14, 1886. 
Mr. James W. Keys. 
My dear Sir : 

You ask me for a short account of my acquaintance with Abraham 
Lincoln. I became acquainted with Mr. Lincoln in 1834, and from 
that time to the day of his death, I knew the man well I may say, 
intimately. He moved to the city of Springfield in 183T ; it was then 
but a small town or village now quite a city. I studied law with Logan 
and Lincoln, two great lawyers in 184243. In 1843 Mr. Lincoln 
and I became partners in the law business in Springfield, but did busi- 
ness in all the surrounding counties. Our partnership was never legally 
dissolved till the night of his assassination his death. The good man, 


the noble man would take no money of my fees made in the law business 
after his election to the Presidency. Mr. Lincoln was a safe counselor, 
a good lawyer, and an honest man in all the walks of life. Mr. Lincoln 
was not appreciated in this city, nor was he at all times the most popu- 
lar man among us. The cause of his unpopularity, rather the want of 
popularity, here arose out of two grounds. First, he did his own think- 
ing, and, second, he had the courage of his convictions and boldly and 
fearlessly expressed them. I speak generally, and especially of his 
political life. Mr. Lincoln was a cool, cautious, conservative, and long- 
headed man. Mr. Lincoln could be trusted by the people; they did 
trust him, and they were never deceived. He was a pure man, a great 
man and a patriot. 

In the practice of the law, he was simple, honest, fair and broad- 
minded ; he was courteous to the bar and to the Court ; he was open, 
candid, and square in his profession, never practicing on the sharp nor 
the low. Mr. Lincoln met all questions fairly, squarely, and openly, 
making no concealments of his ideas, nor intentions, in any case ; he 
took no snap judgments, nor used any tricks in his business. Every 
man knew exactly where Mr. Lincoln stood, and how he would act in 
a law case. Mr. Lincoln never deceived his brother lawyers in any 
case. What he told you was the exact truth. . . . 

The desk made of walnut with four shelves in it, with two leaved 
doors belonged to Lincoln and myself in our early practice. The desk 
contained most of our books for years. The table is made of walnut 
with two drawers ; the desk and table were placed in our office on the 
same day, say as early as 1850, probably before. You now own the 
desk and table that Lincoln once owned ; he gave me the desk and table, 
and what you have is genuine and true. They have never been out of 
my sight since they were delivered to Lincoln and myself. Please take 
good care of the sacred things, mementos of the noble man Abraham 

Most respectfully, 

Springfield, El., July 10, 1886. 
Friend Weik: 

... In answer to your question, let me say that Mr* Lincoln was 


not at Chicago, nor nearer there than this city, during the week, time, 
of his nomination for the Presidency in 1860. Mr. Lincoln was in this 
city during the convention, all the time of it, playing ball and drink- 
ing beer with the boys. He was nervous that day and played ball and 
drank beer to while away the time ; he hoped and despaired that day 
in this city. I was in Chicago during the time of the convention, but 
Lincoln was not there ; he was here and had not been in Chicago for 
months, probably, before the convention. 

Your friend, 


Springfield, HI., October 9, 1886. 
Friend Weik: 

... I have received no reply from the publishing company as yet 
in answer to mine, my last. When I get an answer, I will send it to you. 
You and I can write the biography wanted. My letters to you are 
half of the biography, ready-made to hand. I have probably all the 
original papers, the important ones out of which Lamon wrote his 
Life of Lincoln ; he never had the originals. I only sold him copies 
of the originals. I kept the originals and have them at my house in 
the country. Some few things may be lost. 

I referred to you as my literary friend, because the publishing 
company asked for the name ; and I thought it due to you to say so. 
I explained to them that you were just entering the literary field in 
my last. It's all right. You need not fear that the publishing company 
will dispense with your services. I'll see to that, my friend. 

Your friend, 


Chicago* December 1, 1886. 
Friend Weik: 

I have sent you some cards and pamphlets explaining the purposes 
and scope of the Lincoln Memorial Collection owned by Messrs. Keys 
and Munson of this city, and if anything more comes out, I'll send to 
you. I am here to assist them in starting their valuable collection of 
Lincoln relics to the public view. I am not here expressly to lecture. 
However, I do not know what will happen in this world of rusMog 


events. I am pushing the collection along as well as I can, do not know 
when I shall go home, am as fat, hearty, and jolly as a pig ; I am not 
run and kicked to death, have a little time to laugh and be merry. 

The word "Sarah," I think, refers to Mrs. Edwards as I now 
recollect it. When I see you [I shall] refresh my memory by looking 
at the papers. When an opportunity presents itself and at the proper 
time, I may say something to the leading men and houses here about 
our intentions of writing, etc. Let us push things along somewhat 
before we talk to publishers. I am glad that you are pulling the wires 
in Boston and New York. I have a friend in, New York who will help 
us, if you give me the privilege, give your consent that I should write 
him on the subject. Give me by letter the substance of what you want 
said and I'll write to him; his name is C. O, Poole, who has written to 
me three or four times on this very subject, but I would evade the 
question, skip over suggestions. 

I am not surprised at all that Nicolay and Hay will be attacked 
for willful suppression of facts ; they know all about Lincoln's ances- 
try, Nancy Hanks, Enloe, Lincoln's paternity, etc., etc., just as fully 
as I do or you do. Mr. A, W. Drake, the artist of the Century, 
intimated to Messrs. Keys and Munson as much, in fact told them the 
whole story as they told it to me long, long before I ever intimated 
such a thing to them. The thing comes straight to me, no earthly 
doubt. Nicolay and Hay tell the truth, as I now remember it, as far 
as they go, but skip the point, suppress facts. Write me often as I 
am lonesome and love to read your letters. 

Your friend, 


Chicago, December 5, 1886. 
Friend Weik: 

On yesterday I finished reading the December number of the Cen- 
tury and am astonished at the length and dullness of Nicolay and 
Hay's second article. If that article is a sample of what is to come, 
I make a prediction that the whole thing will fall stillborn, dead ; it 
is too long a piece to say nothing in, too much little unimportant 
stuff in it for the length of it. If what has been said in the two articles 
were condensed into a short chapter, then it would do. Are Nicolay 


and Hay going to suppress the story of Ann Rutledge, the finest 
story in Lincoln's life? What do you think of the two articles? What 
does the world say? What do the critics say? I want to make you a 
bet; I will bet you a chicken cock that Nicolay and Hay's book will 
tire out the public by its length and its unimportant trash. You mark 
what I say unless a change is made by N. and H. 

I am glad that you are in earnest about our book, hope you will 
keep so. By the way, if your literary friend wants to see our papers 
in order to write something about Lincoln, Nicolay, and Hay, give 
him access to the memoranda if you see proper. Do so to any good 
friend if you wish. My private letters are private and no one is to see 
them except yourself. I mean mostly those letters written to me by 
others. Act in all cases according to your best judgments and I'll 

I hope that you will think better of my arrangement with Keys 
and Munson. I did for the best. My word is out to them and I can but 
perform. Good will come out of it. ... 

Your friend, 


Chicago, December 8, 1886. 
Friend Weik: 

... I shall write to C. F. Black, the real author of Lamon's Life 
of Lincoln* and get him to help us to launch our book upon the public 
sea ; he knows the ropes or ought to ; he is a man of influence, Lieuten- 
ant Governor of Pennsylvania, and can help us. Keep your eyes open 
as to Mrs. Garrison's propositions. It seems that she wants us to 
secure her a fee as soon as she gets a publisher for the book. Can't 
she wait till it is published? The name which you propose to give the 
book is very good and I approve of it. , . . 

Your friend, 


Chicago, December 9, 1886. 
Friend Weik : 

I am here and somewhat lonesome and I will have to talk to you,, 
make a companion of you. You were quoted Judge Davis on me to 


the effect that Lincoln was a great lawyer. That I never denied, but 
I said that he was not a first-rate nisi prius lawyer. I further said that 
he was not a learned lawyer, and that he was a case lawyer, etc. Just 
hear what Judge Davis does say : he says of Lincoln : "He could hardly 
be called very learned in his profession, and yet he rarely tried a 
cause without fully understanding the law applicable to it." This I 
agree to and now the question: Come, how was he a great lawyer? 
Says Judge Davis: "He read law books but little, except when the 
cause in hand made it necessary." The next question comes: What 
books did he resort to to get his information? He went to the reports 
and hunted up like cases ; he was a case lawyer and that only ; he 
never as a general rule went to the textbooks, and he was ever ready 
to attend in a masterly way all cases that came before him, right or 
wrong, good or bad, ready or not ready, except ever ready through 
his legal love and his own sagacity. Now you have my opinion right 
or wrong, wise or foolish. 

You have never told me how you liked my Lincoln records now in 
your possession. How do you like 'em? Nor have you ever said how 
you liked Nicolay and Hay's two articles in the Century. The opinion 
here is generally good, somewhat mixed up. Tell me all about what 
you think of the two pieces, etc. Come, give me your ideas. 

I shall write to Poole and to Governor Black ere long and get 'em to 
help us to launch our little craft on the great public sea. 

Your friend, 


Chicago, December 13, 1886. 
Friend Weik: 

I received a letter from Governor Black, the author of Lamon's 
Life of Lincoln ; he says that someone is writing severe criticisms on 
N. and H.'s life of L. ; he thinks it is Lamon who does it but does not 
know it absolutely. Black says he will write me soon and tell me all 
about it; his letter to me is dated the 8th inst.; he further says that 
Lamon is soon to publish his second volume of the Life of L. and will 
reprint the first volume. Lamon is in Washington now, and I shall 
write to him, asking him to send me his criticisms or others ; he will 


send to me quickly and I'll send to you if I get any, will tell you what 
Black says. 

Can you not block out the first and second chapters of our Life 
of L. before I come to see you? Come, try and do it, will you? By the 
way, have you seen any criticisms on N. and H.'s work? If you have, 
what are they in substance? I am so tied up here that I have no time 
much to read the papers. I have to explain to visitors the nature, 
history, etc., of the Lincoln Memorial Collection ; it keeps me blabbing 
all the time. The thing is new here and not a great many people visit it 
as yet though the promises are good. The collection will be a good 
thing in the near future, as I think. Lincoln is growing in the estima- 
tion of the people ; and the older the relics of him, the more valuable 
the collection will be and the more eager to see what Lincoln saw and 
had, felt and thought, dreamed and acted. The people are crazy for 
autographs. One man, Mr. Lindman, paid $1000 for the autograph 
of Shakespeare. Lincoln's autographs bring from $10 to $20. 1 could 
get that for each autograph of L. if I had any. It is a curious phe- 
nomenon of our nature, this craving of autographs. A candy man 
here, Mr. Gunther told me, had $40,000 worth of autographs in his 
safes. I have forgotten the man's name; he is the great wholesale 
candy man of this city, sent me a fine box at Springfield some little 
time since ; went to see him and his house since I have been here ; he is 
wild on autographs. 

I think that Mrs. Garrison needs watching; she seems to me to be 
avaricious and selfish in this extreme; she seems to understand the 
ropes and herself, including the meanness and frauds of the publishing 
business. Black could tell you a story that would shock you. We will 
have to keep both eyes and ears open or we are gulped down, swallowed 
up body, breeches, and soul. How do you feel about the matter? I hope 
that we shall succeed somehow and with someone. 

In one of your letters to me you state that we are to write the Life 
of L. honestly, fairly, squarely, telling the whole truth and suppress- 
ing nothing, up to 1860, and there leaving him a grand figure standing 
up against the clear deep blue sky of the future. This is a good idea 
and I approve it in toto. Would it not be a good idea to have a short 
concluding chapter on him, not going into the details of his adminis- 
tration, the war, the reconstruction measures, etc,, etc.? We would 


thus give a full life of the man and yet leaving him standing up 
against the deep blue of the future. I am simply suggesting, not dic- 
tating. Think of the suggestion. I am not particular as to the where 
in L.'s life that we shall leave him full to the gaze of the people. 
Write to me often and tell me your thoughts and your dreams. 

Your friend, 


Chicago, December 2%, 1886. 
Friend Weik : 

Your letter, dated the 19th inst., was duly received. I regret to hear 
of your good grandmother's death. I once had an excellent old grand- 
mother and I know how I felt the loss of her. She was a good old Vir- 
ginia lady. 

I hope that you and Wartman will find new matters of interest in 
Indiana, and I do hope that you will get the "Chronicles." The man 
who had them while I was in Spencer County would not spare them 
under any consideration. I had no money with which to coax him. As 
to the anonymous letter, I never paid much attention to it, because, 
as I recollect, the fact is that Sarah Lincoln was the oldest child of 
Mrs. Lincoln, Nancy Hanks, and hence Abraham may have been the 
child of Thomas, upon the condition that Thomas was not castrated 
and upon the further condition that Enloe never had connection with 
Nancy at any other time thereafter, I do not like anonymous letters 
anyhow. However, push your investigation with vigor, for something 
may come of it. 

It would be prudent and wise for you to go into New York, now 
when the book is ready. You judge of the time and other circum- 
stances. If I hear from Black or anyone else touching our business, 
let me assure you that I'll write to you. I am well and hearty as a 
pig, am contented, and, by the way, I talk a good deal to the people 
about Lincoln. Without knowing what you and I are about, they hope 
that I'll write the life of L. The people here have confidence in what I 
say ; they know that I knew Lincoln. It is dark in the room in which I'm 
writing and hence excuse crowdedness of lines, etc. Enclosed you will 
find a copy of the Campbell letter which you wish. I shall write out 
fully L.'s philosophy and his religion in short when I get time ; have 


said enough about his religion, and yet some general remarks must 
be made in his biography. What say you? 

Your friend, 


Chicago, December %h 1886. 
Friend Weik: 

I have just received a letter from Mr. Poole in which he uses the 
following words about N. and H.'s life of Lincoln : "Yes, I have read 
some of Nicolay and Hay's on Lincoln. The environment, etc., etc., of 
these men at present is very much against them, showing Mr. Lincoln 
as he was. They are aiming to do, first, a superb piece of literary 
work ; secondly, to make a story popular with the 'classes* as against 
the 'masses. 9 It will result in delineating the real Lincoln about as well 
as does a wax figure in the museum." 

There is a good deal in this criticism, I assure you. The suppres- 
sions of the truth by N. and H. will injure them. I am of the opinion, 
of the growing opinion, that we will have to state facts, leaving each 
man and woman free to draw their own conclusions. I wish to state in 
full Mr. Lincoln's philosophy, objective and subjective. I wish to say 
a few words on L.'s religion. This is all. I do not wish to suppress the 
truth, nor to suggest a falsehood in the life of Lincoln. The whole 
facts must come out sooner or later. Shall we take the lead or play 
the coward? This is my idea, i.e., take the lead and think about it, if 
you please, my good friend. I do not think that it is necessary for 
you to come here. We can see each other in Springfield or Greencastle 
when the time comes. If you go anywhere this winter, go into Ken- 
tucky, go to Elizabethtown and to Springfield, Kentucky, to Paris, 
and to other places, and dig out the facts. Lincoln, Thomas, was 
married, as I remember it, in Washington County, Kentucky. Go 
there and scratch out the facts as a dog digs out a rabbit, corn, or 
ground hog. I like your pluck and energy, your industry and per- 
sistency. I will send you all the news about Lincoln, N. and H. 
cisms, etc., when and as they come to hand. 

Your friend, 



Chicago, January 2, 1887. 
Friend Weik : 

Have you read the January number of the Century? If you have, 
you will see that N. and H. have suppressed many facts, material 
facts, of Lincoln's life, and among them are L.'s genealogy, paternity, 
the description of Nancy Hanks, old Thomas Lincoln, the Ann Rut- 
ledge story, L.'s religion, L.'s insanity, the facts of L.'s misery with 
Mary Todd, L.'s breakdown on the night that he and Mary Todd were 
to be married, etc., etc. I do not say that they did not mention some 
of these things in a roundabout way, but I do say that the kernel, 
"nib," and point of things have been purposely suppressed. N. and H. 
do know the facts fully, as I am informed on good authority. Mr. 
Drake told them to Keys and Munson tolerably plainly. Do you call 
this history, do you call it biography? No wonder that L. had a con- 
tempt for all history and biography ; he knew how it was written ; he 
knew the motives and conscience of the writers of history and 
biography. Lincoln wanted to know the whole truth and nothing less. 
This I know. N. and H. write correctly, as far as they go, or probably 
dare go. The reading world is not ready to hear the whole truth, if it 
is an unpleasant thing ; they love to be put to sleep by pleasant stories 
or humbugged by falsehood. Barnum is the beau ideal of the Ameri- 
can. Nothing succeeds like success, this is what the general American 
worships, it and the ring-roll and glitter of the almighty dollar. 
Probably this idea moves N. and H. to do what they are doing. N. and 
H. handle things with silken gloves and "a camel-hair pencil" ; they 
do not write with an iron pen. If some sharp critic knew what you and 
I know, he would shiver the future of N. and H.'s biography in a 
minute. I say that the boys write well and tell the truth very correctly 
as far as they go. Who is to blame, the people or N. and H. ? I am of 
the growing opinion that we must state facts while we give no opinion, 
leaving all men and women open to form their own opinion on the facts. 
This I have stated to you before, and now I should like to have a 
hint of your ideas and feelings. What say you? Come out with them 
in fun. I used to tell Lincoln in my wild way in 18585960 this: 
'^Lincoln, you must take an advanced step if you wish to be success- 
ful in your hopes and your ambition." I thought that he was too con- 
servative at that time. He moved and won. If you wish to succeed in 
our Life of L., you must take an advanced step. You must strike the 


world with a grand surprise. This is just what the world demands 
and without such a strike the people will go to sleep over your biogra- 
phy. This is my opinion. To tell the whole truth about L. would be a 
grand surprise. Now you have my opinion in full, good or bad, wise 
or foolish. . . 

Your friend in haste, 

Chicago* January 6, 1887. 
Friend Weik: 

Mr. Lincoln was employed in 1855 by a man by the name of Manny 
to go to Cincinnati, Ohio., and defend for him a case before Justice 
McLean, a case for an infringement of a patent and wherein MeCor- 
mick was the plaintiff and Manny was defendant. The case was an 
important one, and big attorneys were employed on both sides, Sew- 
ard, Stanton, and others. Mr. Lincoln went on to Cincinnati to 
attend to the case. Probably Manny came out to Illinois and accom- 
panied Lincoln to Ohio. This is only my recollection. Mr. Lincoln 
landed in Cincinnati on time. Manny accompanied Lincoln in the morn- 
ing after Mr. Lincoln had arrived in Cincinnati to Stanton's office, 
was ushered into the anteroom. Manny left Lincoln for a moment in 
the anteroom, went and said a word or two to Stanton. Between the 
anteroom and Stanton's office there was a door with a large glass in 
it, so that Stanton could look through and see Lincoln. Stanton did 
look through the glass and did see Lincoln, who was rather illy clad 
according to Stanton's notions of what great lawyers ought to wear. 
Manny was in Stanton's room and Stanton contemptuously and 

grossly said to Manny : "Why did you bring that d d long-armed 

ape here for? He does not know anything and can do you no good." 
Manny was surprised. Lincoln distinctly heard what Stanton said; 
he was deeply insulted and felt indignant ; left the room and never 
appeared in the case any more; stayed in Cincinnati a few days till 
the trial was over, as some say, and, as others say, he left Cincinnati 
instantly in high anger. My recollection is that he stayed in Cin- 
cinnati till the trial was over, though he did not have anything to say 
in his case. The lawyers with Lincoln treated him badly, discourte- 
ously, and meanly from the beginning to the end. When Mr. Lincoln 


came back to Springfield, he looked sad and sour and gloomy, and I 
never asked him how his case ended, thought probably that he had 
lost his case and felt badly over it. 

Your friend in haste, 

In this case, too, Lincoln sank his private griefs, wrongs, etc., out 
of view ; appointed Stanton Secretary of War for the public good. 

Chicago, January 7, 1887. 
Friend Weik : 

I am instructed by Messrs. Munson and Keys to write to and ask 
you if you would dispose of the old Bible record of which you sent 
me a copy, the one that Dennis Hanks tore out and wore out, and that 
Mrs. Chapman gave you. They likewise would like to know if you 
would dispose of the leaf of Lincoln's copy or exercise book which I 
gave you several years since and has some Lincoln poetry on it. If 
you would dispose of these things they would like to know your terms. 

The articles by N. and H., so far as they go and when they touch 
Lincoln at all, when they got in mew of him, are very wonderfully 
correct as I recollect Lincoln's history. The evasions, suppressions, 
and dodgings of N. and H. show that they are afraid to speak out 
the truth. The story of Ann Rutledge is one of Lincoln's best episodes, 
best episodes in L.'s life. I guess you are right in this, that N. and H. 
were praised too much, blew too big a horn, tooted too loud, can't hold 
the attention of the people to the grand starting blast, fear this. 
Wait, and probably N. and H. will put in Mrs. Lincoln's photo ; they 
will do wrong to neglect it. Possibly Mrs. Lincoln offended the "boys" 
while in Washington ; guess she did and they are revenging themselves. 
Wait, probably they, N. and H., will put in Mr. and Mrs. Edwards's 
yet. I'll get all the photos that I can, and send or bring to you. I'll 
see Mather and get his story if I can, hope that you'll get Mrs. Vine- 
yard's photo. Read up, outline, and let me hear from you again and 
often. I have got Barrett's Life of Lincoln, Arnold's, Lamon's, Hol- 
land's, and the everyday Life of Lincoln by Brown ; will bring or send 
you any of these which you want. No, I have not seen Robert Lincoln 
and don't expect to, don't care to do so. I think that Robert hates me 
because I tell the truth, have told the truth about his mother and fa- 


ther. Bob's a Todd, not a Lincoln ; he's a little man with good inten- 
tions probably. 


Chicago, January 8, 1887. 
Friend Weik : 

Enclosed you will please find a letter from Mr. Lamon of Indiana. 
The story, as I related it to you once, is this : One of the Grigsby 
boys married Lincoln's sister; Lincoln thought that the Grigsbys 
mistreated her, and the Lincolns and the Grigsbys fell out, one with 
another, etc. The two Grigsby boys were subsequently married on 
the same night and probably to two sisters. Old man Grigsby, for the 
two boys, had and held an inf air, as was the custom at that time, at his 
house. The neighbors were invited except Abraham, and all went along 
as merry as a Christmas bell. Abraham got the ears of some of his 
chums who were in the house and at the inf air. Abraham was not in- 
vited and so Tie felt huffy and insulted. He therefore told the boys in- 
side this : 'TLet's have some fun." "Well," said the boys inside. It was 
arranged between the insiders and outsiders that the two married 
couples should be put to bed, but A's husband was to be put in B's bed 
and C was to be put in D's bed, all changed around and in the wrong 
places. Both husbands got in the wrong bed by direction, made be- 
tween Abraham and the invited insiders, so it was arranged and so it 
was executed. The girls were aloft when they and their husbands were 
put to bed. Soon, however, a scream and a rattling of boards aloft 
were heard and all was "confusion worse confounded." A candle was 
lit and things found out and explained to the satisfaction of the 
women and the men. Probably the women knew the voices of their 
loved ones, and by that means the terrible mistake was found out, 
but who caused it and what for were not found out for some time. Here 
is Abraham who was joyous and revenged that night, the good saint 
at one of his jokes. I have forgotten the names of the boys, their given 
names, and likewise the girls* given and surnames. You will get the 
names when you go to Indiana. The story was told to me by one of 
the Grigsbys. Root out the story. It's true. Can you read this? 

Your friend, 


Think the name of the boys was Charles and Reuben Grigsby. 


Chicago, January 14> 1887. 
Friend Weik : 

Enclosed you will find Badeau on Mrs. Lincoln and Garrison on the 
Sanie. I sent you your Indianapolis paper, but for fear it would not 
-reach you, I send the slip. You may not have seen Garrison's estimate 
of L., and therefore I send it. Garrison stayed with me about eight 
days some years since ; he was a perfect gentleman and a very social 
Bian. My wife loved the man ; she was once a pro-slavery girl, but 
I took that out of her by fair argument and reason pretty quick after 
marriage; she is now a rabid Liberty woman in every direction. I 
shall start for home tomorrow evening, nothing preventing, and will 
send you those books according to your wish and see the people you 
told me to see, etc., etc. 

From the criticisms of the press it would, it does, appear that the 
reading world wants to know every and all events, facts, incidents, 
thoughts, feelings, and adventures of Lincoln, including the books he 
read and the girls he cr hugged," and the like, upon the fact of human 
experience that the man grows out of the boy and the boy out of the 
child. The foundations of manhood are laid in the boy, deep down in 
the boy. Mrs. Thomas Bush Lincoln did her job well in making Abe; 
she is the good angel who did it ; she had, too, choice material. Now 
when you go to the southern part of Indiana, or when you go to 
Kentucky, gather up all the facts, dig 'em out, run 'em down, of L/s 
youth, and when I go to court in Menard County, I shall do the same, 
will go there in March. The second thing will be to get a perfect 
description of Tom L., Nancy H., Sarah Bush L., Abraham L., which 
you will find in Sice Months m the White House. There is an old man 
who knows Nancy. You will see him in the Century. I had nothing else 
to write, and so gabbled along, wanted to send slips of paper most. 

Your friend, 

Springfield, III., January %<2, 1887. 
Friend Weik : 

I am at home once more and I am glad of it, and I suppose that 
you are, because I can have more time to write my notes. In a few 
days I shall send to you the books on Lincoln which I wrote to you 
about, some time since. By this time, I guess that you have read my 


letters, evidences, etc., about Lincoln ; and by the way let me ask you 
a question, which is as follows : How did you like my Ann Rutledge 
lecture, as a whole and especially that part which talks about the 
old settler? There was not much of "the malaria" in them nor any of 
"the miasmatic" sickly indolence in them, as H. and Nicolay write; 
they were a brave, generous, hospitable, jolly, rollicking set of boys, 
I assure you ; these people were the very devil for fun and were warmly 
social; they were the most social of creatures, these people in and 
about New Salem ; they were rude and rough, it is true, but full of 
truth and honesty ; they were not a gloomy nor a sad people ; they were 
full of life, over-souled, and that is all. These people were not touched 
by "the malaria'* nor dwarfed by "the miasma." The "boys" say this 
in order to show that the sadness of Lincoln was of the forest. This is 
all nonsense. Lincoln's sadness, gloominess, etc., were the result of his 
organism and facts subsequent to his birth ; he knew a great deal of his 
birth, etc., more than one thinks. Forest life does not make a man sad, 
nor gloomy, nor melancholic ; it makes a man sincere, earnest, thought- 
ful. Away with "the malarial" and "miasmatic" idea ; it is nonsense or 
worse than that. 

I understand that the Nation is giving the cc boys" a considerable 
lashing. The editor sees, as all men and women see, that the "boys" 
are covering up things, evading sharp facts, suppressing important 
things, facts, and events in Abraham's young life. Some of the finest 
episodes in L.'s young life are omitted or evaded or smothered up in 
words. Read in H. and N. Lincoln's courtship with Miss Todd and 
what came of it, and then tell me, if you possibly can, the real facts 
of that sad, terrible event. Can you tell me anything about, can you 
tell to the inquiring soul anything about, the facts of Lincoln's court- 
ship of Miss Todd and what came of it? It is apparent to all persons 
who read the article spoken of that something is kept back, facts 
smothered by many, many words. The boys had better have told 
the truth or kept wholly silent on the subject, for the tendency of 
veiled things, stories, is to magnify the thing half concealed. Men 
and women are inquisitive, and hint a thing to them only and they 
will flash the story falsely seen to suit the demands of the mind. I once 
wrote a piece on this very question for Mr. Thorndike, 1 of the North 
American Review, which talks out in school. I wish that Thorndike 

i Allan Thorndike Rice. 



would publish it now while the fever is up ; it would put the story 
right and convince the people that there was one man in America who 
dares to tell the truth who was not writing the life of Lincoln under 
the surveillance of "Bob" Lincoln. H. and N., in my opinion, are 
afraid of Bob; he gives them materials and they in their turn play 
hush. This is my opinion and is worth no more than an honest opinion. 

There was a story current here some years since that Lincoln 
courted a young lady here by the name of Rickard. My wife's step- 
mother was a Rickard and the sister of the courted girl. My wife says 
that her stepmother told her that Lincoln wanted "Sue," that is, Susan 
Rickard ; she is still living here and I'll try and get the truth out of 
her. Women, as a general rule, do not love to blab about these things, 
especially to the general public. I once had Miss Rickard's confidence 
and I think I hold it yet. I'll see about the matter when I have time 
and the fruit sought is ripe. I do want to get at the exact truth of all 
the Lincoln facts. I have tried to do so for twenty years or more and 
will to the very end. The reading world is entitled to truth ; it is their 
right to have it, and it is our religious duty to tell it. 

I will see Mrs. Francis and Mrs. Edwards and get out of them some 
facts which I want and they know at least I think they do know what 
I want. Mrs. Francis once was quite a woman, a shrewd one, a friend 
of Miss Todd and Mr. Lincoln ; it was she who patched up Miss Todd's 
and Lincoln's grievances. Mrs. Francis belonged to the aristocracy of 
this city till she moved to Oregon, or to the great open wide wild West 
from which she has returned to her old nest to die. 

If you will look at your Indiana paper, you will see that it makes 
this criticism, namely, that one of Lincoln's biographers makes a 
statement of a fact and that all others simply follow in his wake, fol- 
low in detail what the first one uttered, a mere flock of sheep following 
where the ram goes, and this is to a certain extent very true ; and yet 
it is equally true that there must be a thread to every narrative of 
facts, if of considerable length. Now the question comes, is, how to 
avoid the just criticism and yet keep in view the thread of the narra- 
tive? Take the killing of Abraham Lincoln's grandfather as an illus- 
tration; shall we go over the same old story in length, in detail, or 
shall we simply say that he was killed by stealth in Kentucky while 
opening a farm about the year 1781 or 2 ? Lamon first tells the story 
and then Arnold and then H. and N. and then shall we? I think it 


best to cut the story short but keep in view the thread of the narrative. 
Friend, keep a keen lookout for criticisms, and we will avoid much 
fault-finding. We ought to condense. We ought, as the diamond-seller 
says, to give a fine color, a keen and sharp cutting, and a gem full 
of fire to our production. In better words, let our gem have a fine 
color, a sharp and keen cutting, and filled with blazing fire. We should 
keep Truth always before us and then fire it. 

Hay and Nicolay say in the January number of the Century sub- 
stantially this : that Speed was the only intimate friend that Lincoln 
ever had, and that Speed and Lincoln poured out their souls to each 
other. Possibly I do not understand what they mean by the word 
vntimate. If they mean to say that Lincoln had no friends, after 
Speed, to whom he poured out his soul, then it may be true, but the 
question comes: Did he pour out his soul to Speed? Lincoln's nature 
was secretive, it was reticent, it was "hush." Did Lincoln violate that 
whole nature? He may have opened to Speed in one direction under 
conditions. He was courting Miss Todd and Speed was well you 
can guess. These facts brought the two close together, and on the love 
question alone Lincoln opened to Speed possibly the whole. Did Lin- 
coln tell Speed his love scrapes with Ann Rutledge as well as others ? 
He did not. See Speed's letter to me in Lamon's Life of Lincoln. . . , 
Still another question comes : Did Lincoln and Speed or either of them 
open the facts, their minds, to Hay and Nicolay about the intimate 
friendship ? Who authorizes H. and N. to assert what they do assert ? 
How do H. and N. know that Lincoln and Speed poured out their souls 
to one another? If to tell a friend some facts in one line or direction 
constitutes intimate friendship, then Lincoln always, before and after 
Speed left Illinois, had intimate friends, and if Lincoln's refusal to 
tell all the secrets of his soul to any man shows a want of intimate 
friendship, then Lincoln never had an intimate friend. Poetry is no 
fit place for severe history. I think the truth is just here, namely, that 
under peculiar conditions and under lines of love and in that direc- 
tion they were intimate friends. No man pours out his whole soul to 
any man ; he keeps millions of secrets in his own bosom, with himself 
and God alone ; he would keep them secret from God if he could. Such 
broad assertions as H. and N.'s are lies and nothing less. Did H. and 
N. enter Lincoln's and Speed's minds and read the story? Nonsense* 
Let us keep shy of poetry or poetical license in our book, if we can. 


Let us ever keep in mind facts, truths, and then write tersely and to 
the point, plainly to the understanding of the great mass of men, to 
the common people. Lincoln has often said to me : "Don't shoot too 
high, aim low." 

Enclosed, with this is a letter which I wrote to Mr. Poole 1 in *86, 
which you can read and file away. In the letter I say, and now affirm, 
that Mr. Lincoln was a riddle and a puzzle to his neighbors generally. 
Some few knew the man inside and outside ; he was at once a many- 
sided and a ma.ny-mooded man. At times he had his spells in which 
he seemed to be destitute of reason. In the Poole letter, in my hurry 
while writing it, I may have pressed the idea of heredity too far or 
given it too much force. I shall correct the letter and the idea some- 
time when I write to you. The letter was in fact hurriedly written and 
I had no time to correct nor rewrite it. Read it and tell me how you 
like it in general. I do not in fact pride myself on the letter. 

Your friend, 

January 8, 1887. 
Friend Weik: ' 

You must expect some repetition where I write so many different 
letters to different men all over the Union, east and west, north and 
south. I cannot help it entirely and no man could. What I cannot help 
I am not to be censured for. 

Your friend, 
W. H. H. 

Springfield, III., January 1887. 
Friend Weik : 

Judge Matheny tells me this story of Mr. and Mrs. Lincoln ; the 
story was told him by one of the parties to it. About the year 1850 
there lived in this city a man by the name of Tiger, who was a personal 
friend of Lincoln ; he was a kind but a powerful man physically. Tiger 
heard that Mrs. Lincoln was without help and, knowing that Mrs. 
Lincoln was a tigress and could not for any length of time keep a 

i See letter of January 5, 1886. "" 


girl, thought that he had a niece, who was a fine girl, industrious, neat, 
saving, and rather handsome, who could satisfy anybody on earth. 
So he sent the girl down to see Mrs. Lincoln ; she, Mrs. L., was anx- 
ious to get a girl, and arrangements were made between the two 
that Sarah, the girl's name, should stay and help Mrs. L. Everything 
went on well for some time, Mrs. L. bragging of her Sarah all the while 
to her neighbors and visitors. Sarah herself was no common hired 
girl, but a fine woman and rather intelligent, pleasant, and social. 
Mrs. Lincoln at last got on one of her insane mad spells, insulted 
and actually slapped the girl, who could and would not stand it. So 
she quit Mrs. Lincoln, went home to her uncle Tiger's, and told her 
story, weeping and crying all the while. Tiger felt bad about the 
matter but, knowing that all quarrels generally have two sides to 
them, he was determined to find out the truth of the matter. So he 
went down to Lincoln's and, when he got there, he saw that Mrs. Lin- 
coln had thrown the girl's trunk and clothes out of the house and on 
the pavement in the street. On approaching the house, he saw the 
things ; and just in the yard stood Mrs. Lincoln ready for a fight. 
Tiger advanced and spoke to Mrs. Lincoln in a kind and gentlemanly 
way ; said he came to see her and find out who was in fault, and what 
was the matter, all about it. Mrs. L. at once blazed away with her 
sharp and sarcastic tongue, having her insane mad spell on her, 
abused Tiger shamefully, calling him a dirty villain, a vile creature, 
and the like. Tiger stood still, waiting for an opportunity to pitch in 
a word of peace and reconciliation, but to no purpose. Mrs. Lincoln 
got madder and madder, boiled over with her insane rage, and at last 
struck Tiger with the broom two or three times. Tiger now got mad, 
but said nothing to Mrs. Lincoln, not a word, stood the licking as 
best he could. Tiger at last gathered up the clothes of the girl and, 
being a strong man, threw the trunk on his shoulder and carried it and 
the girl's clothes home to his niece. The older the thing his licking 
by Mrs. L. got, the madder Tiger got, and so he swore to himself 
that no man's wife should thus treat him and go free from a whipping 
or at least the husband should humiliatingly apologize for the wrong 
done him by his wife. The longer the thing stood in Tiger's mind, the 
more furious Tiger got, and so he went down into the city in search 
of Lincoln, in order to make him correct the thing or to whip him, 
to apologize or to stand a thumping, licking, a severe whipping; he 


after some considerable search found Lincoln in Edwards's store 
reading on the counter, telling one of his best stories. Tiger caught 
part of the story that tickled him very much. However, Tiger, being 
a man of will, called Lincoln out of the store and told him the facts of 
the fight between the women, and his licking by Mrs. Lincoln, and said 
to Lincoln that he must punish Mrs. Lincoln and apologize to him, 
Tiger, or ... and just here Lincoln caught what was coming, 
looked up to Tiger, having held his head down with shame as Tiger 
told the story of his wrongs done him by Mrs. L., and said calmly, 
kindly, and in a very friendly way, mingled with shame and sadness : 
"Friend Tiger, can't you endure this one wrong done you by a mad- 
woman without much complaint for old freindship's sake while I have 
had to bear it without complaint and without a murmur for, lo, these 
last fifteen years ?" Lincoln said what he did so kindly, so peacefully, 
so friendly, so feelingly, so apologetically in manner and tone, and so 
sadly, that it quickly and totally disarmed Tiger, who said to Lincoln : 
"Friend, give me your hand. I'll bear what has been done me by Mrs. 
Lincoln on your account and your account alone. I'll say no more 
about the matter, and now, Lincoln, let us be forever what we have 
been, friends." Lincoln instantly took and grasped, warmly grasped, 
Tiger's hand and shook it in a real friendly, Western style, saying: 
"Agreed, friend Tiger, and so let us be what we have always been, 
warm personal friends," and they ever were afterwards. Thus ended 
in the very best feeling and warmest friendship what at one time 
threatened to be a terrible personal fight. Both men were physically 
powerful and personally brave, and it is very doubtful which of the 
men was the most powerful. Lincoln was wise in not letting Tiger say 
what he intended to say, which was : "1*11 punish, whip, you for 
your wife's wrong." That would have offended Lincoln and a fight 
would have certainly ensued. Lincoln tapped the cloud before the bolt 
came. I say that Lincoln was wise in the right, exact moment where 
wisdom was most needed and coolness. This little story brings out 
one of Lincoln's best characteristics patience, peace, shrewdness, 
and practical wisdom; it affects me as much as any little story that I 
ever heard of Lincoln. God bless the man. He has blessed him as He 
has blessed no other man. Sometimes I can see Lincoln standing before 
me as I write about him, and so it is just at this moment I see Lincoln, 
the sad, the noble man. 


I hope that you can read this fine little story, ending in peace and 
lasting friendship between two old personal friends. It is a good story 
and one that can be relied on ; it comes from the right quarters and 
through men who know what they are talking about, men of truthful- 
ness, honor, integrity. 

Your friend, 


Mrs. Lincoln had the insanity of madness and not the madness of 
insanity before she left for Washington. 


Spring-field, III., January SO, 1887. 
Friend Weik: 

I wish to, as it were, repeat some things in order to make my ideas 
clean and clear. I have tried to understand some of the philosophy 
of N. and H. They say in the January number of the Century at 
page 378, I think, that Lincoln's sadness, gloom, and melancholy 
were caused by his constitutional tendencies slightly "taint," to use 
their expression and that that constitutional tendency was intensi- 
fied by the malarial and miasmatic idea ; they further say, to add to 
the force of the argument, that we of the great West in an early day 
lived a forest life, and that a forest life made us sad, gloomy, and 
melancholic, and hence Lincoln's sadness, gloom, and melancholy; 
they use the three words sadness, gloom, and melancholy as I re- 
member it. I have not the January number of the Century, having 
loaned it to my son. N. and Hay further state that we of the great 
West of an early day were unsocial and never smiled, only laughed. 
Now all this is but to prove that Lincoln was sad, gloomy, and 
melancholic, slightly through his organism, which slightness was in- 
tensified by the malarial and forest life idea. Let me see as to this 
argument. What is sadness, gloom, and melancholy? They mean a 
state of sorrow, dejection, and an idea that bodes an evil, which throw 
their shadow over the face of the man. That Mr. Lincoln was a sad, 
gloomy, and melancholic man, I admit; his sadness, etc., were prin- 
cipally and chiefly caused by his organism, his make-up and Ms con- 
stitution, which certain tendency of it was intensified by a series 


of facts happening to him in his after life and a knowledge coming 
to him of the lowness of his origin, his mother's illegitimacy, his 
aunt's looseness, his father's loss of manhood possibly, and doubts 
of his own paternity, etc., etc. These, with the untimely death of 
Ann Rutledge, and his unfortunate marriage to Miss Mary Todd, 
and the hell that came of it, caused Lincoln's sadness, etc., i.e., inten- 
sified his original nature. Lincoln's philosophy was a gloomy belief 
terribly so. But let me continue. Does a forest life make man and 
woman sad, gloomy, and melancholic? Remember what I said as to 
the nature of sadness, etc. That a forest life makes men and women 
sincere, thoughtful, earnest, sedate, reticent, contemplating, deter- 
mined, which appear on the face, there is no doubt ; and this state has 
been called sadness, gloom, and melancholy by N. and H. Nonsense. 
A nation may probably be sad alone, not dejected, not feeling, not 
having the idea on the face of a coming evil, a boding desolation. A 
people may be sad, that is, be serious, earnest, etc., and this is the 
case with the American people. The Americans are comparatively a 
sad people. They have an unconscious destiny before them, and that 
makes them sad. Again N. and H. say that we of the great West 
in early times never smiled, only laughed. Had these gentlemen been 
raised in the wild, wide West where Lincoln was raised, they would 
never have talked so wildly. Had they been here in an early day, 
they would have seen men and women smile and laugh at every dance 
and at every corn shucking, at every social gathering, and at every 
hoe-down, at every muster and at every election, at every camp meet- 
ing and shooting match, at every fireside and on every highway ; they 
would have seen, had they been here, a social, jovial, cheerful, gen- 
erous, and an honest people, smiling and laughing everywhere as 
occasion demanded. To $m$e is but a half-tickling, but to laugh is the 
highest outburst of the human soul in the line of joyous feeling. The 
boys should not speculate ; they should stick to facts. Lincoln's sad- 
ness in short, etc., were constitutional, and those states were intensi- 
fied by facts and knowledge of his after life, by his conditions and 
his environments, socially, morally, mentally, the death of Ann Rut- 
ledge and his marriage to Miss Mary Todd and the hell that grew 
out, came out of it. Lincoln's philosophy played its part in his 
gloomy states. I'll explain. Lincoln's marriage was a policy marriage 


and he paid the penalty of it, and the payment of that penalty wrote 
its receipt on his face. 

Your friend, 


Would it not be a good idea to get our Springfield papers to say in a 
short way that they understand that Herndon & Co. are writing about 
the life of Lincoln ? 

Springfield, El, February 5, 1887. 
Friend Weik: 

It is said by some of the biographers of Lincoln that "he never drank 
a drop of liquor in his life" and that he never chewed nor smoked a cigar 
or pipe. It is not true that Lincoln "never drank a drop of liquor in his 
life" ; it is true that he never smoked or chewed tobacco. Mr. Lincoln 
did sometimes take a horn ; he played ball on the day of his nomination 
at Chicago in 1860 with the boys, or the day before that, and did drink 
beer two or three times that day and during the game or play ; he was 
nervous then, excited at that particular time, and drank to steady his 
nerves. Lincoln has been often heard to say that "I never drink much 
and am entitled to no credit therefor, because I hate the stuff." A 
friend once asked Lincoln this question : "Don't you like liquor, Lin- 
coln?" and to which L. replied : "No, it is unpleasant to me and always 
makes me feel flabby and undone." Lincoln had a low or slow circula- 
tion of the blood, and hence he had not much wear and tear of the tis- 
sues of the body ; and hence no very strong thirst or appetite for stimu- 
lating drinks, nor other tonics ; he had a good but moderate appetite 
for food, and was satisfied with almost anything that would satisfy 
hunger, anything with which "to fill up." Lincoln in thought and in act 
moved slowly, mentally and physically. He reasoned from the simple to 
the complex, from the concrete to the abstract, from fact to principle, 
from these to laws, through analogy ; he was a worshiper of principles 
and laws. To him everything was Law. These persons generally who 
have a rapid circulation and [are] somewhat nervous, who think 
quickly and act quickly, have much of the wear and tear of the tissues 
of the body, and consequently desire stimulants tonics, and some- 
times unfortunately much of them, to restore the loss of tis&ues, or to 
arrest further loss or destruction of them. Such men generally love 


strong food, heat-giving food, and demand it, are somewhat dyspeptic, 
because of the strong food, and the excess of it, and their bad digestion. 
Lincoln had a good appetite and good digestion, ate mechanically, 
never asking why such a thing was not on the table nor why it was on it, 
if so ; he filled up and that is all ; he never complained of had food nor 
praised the good. Lincoln was rather silent at the table, holding but 
little conversation there with anyone. I, on the circuit, have sat down 
with Lincoln a thousand times, it may be, at the table, and he never 
made any fuss about the food on the table; he ate and went about his 
business, though the food was "cussed bad," as eight out of ten at 
the table would say. Some would swear at it and others would laugh at 
their misfortunes in not getting "goodies." Lincoln did drink when he 
thought that it would do him good ; he was never seen under the in- 
fluence of liquor more than once or twice in his younger days when it, 
liquor, was quite in universal use. 

Lincoln was a riddle and a puzzle sometimes ; he loved best the 
vegetable world generally, though his food was of a mixed kind ; he 
loved a good hot cup of coffee ; and especially did he love apples ; he 
would wrap his forefinger of his right hand and his thumb around the 
equatorial part of the apple and commence eating it at the blossom 
end, never using a knife to cut or peel the apple. I have seen him read, 
study his case and the law of it intently, while eating his apple. His ta- 
ble at home generally was economized to the smallest amount ; he never 
dared as a general thing to invite his friends to his house. Judge Davis 
told me that Lincoln never invited him to his house, and have heard 
many others of Lincoln's best friends say the same thing. Mrs. Lin* 
coin was a very stingy woman and yet she would occasionally have 
parties. Lincoln himself had none of the avarice of the get and yet he 
had a tinge of it in the keep; he was not generous in his money matters, 
unless he had some view in end. Mrs. Lincoln was the cause of his poor 
tables; she economized here to swell otherwise. Poor unfortunate 
woman 1 Wish that she had done better. The world will better under- 
stand the woman and the cause of much of her and Lincoln*s troubles 
when Thorndike Rice of the North American Review publishes my 
article on Lincoln, his marriage, etc., until which time, form no crys- 
tallized unchangeable opinion. Rest easy and be content. 

Your hurried friend, 


Springfield, IU. y February 6 9 1887 
Friend Weik: 

That Lincoln had his peculiar states above described no one doubts, 
and that they sprang out of his organism admits of as little doubt. 
There is a physical organism and an intellectual one in every hu- 
man being. Minds are of different kinds. Some minds require much evi- 
dence before believing and some less. Every mind must believe or fail 
to believe on certain evidence and some minds are credulous and some 
incredulous. This difference comes out of the intellectual organism, as 
we call it for the sake of an idea. Mr. Lincoln's mind required much 
evidence to produce conviction : it was an incredulous mind and nat- 
urally disposed to doubt, deny, was skeptical. Now the question comes : 
"Did Lincoln's gloom, etc., come out of his intellectual organism, or 
his physical?" Or put in different words : "Did his mind with his phi- 
losophy make him such gloomy, etc. or did his physical organism 
alone make him so ?" It was his physical side that did it. 

Lincoln's philosophy grew out of his mind, which was bottomed on 
the physical as a boy grows out of a man, an oak out of an acorn : it 
had to be just as it was and could not be otherwise by any means ; and 
now another question comes : "Did his philosophy make him more such, 
etc., than he otherwise would have been?" His philosophy may have 
tinged, have colored or intensified, his sadness somewhat, a little, but 
it did not cause his sadness, etc. What was Lincoln's philosophy? He 
was honestly a fatalist and has been often heard to say : "I always was 
a fatalist," and quoted Shakespeare as follows : 

There's a divinity that shapes our ends, 
Rongh-hew them how we will. 

He believed in predestination, foreordination, that all things were 
fixed, doomed one way or the other, from which there was no appeal. 
He has often said to me : <c What is to be will be and no efforts nor 
prayers of ours can change, alter, modify, or reverse the decree." Lin- 
coln was somewhat superstitious, had a kind of foreboding of his fate ; 
he said to me more than a dozen times this : "I feel as if I shall meet 
with some terrible end" ; and then would become more sad. Lincoln al- 
ways, to me in our private conversations, said that there was no free- 
dom of the will, rather the mind as a whole ; he maintained that there 
was no conscious act of any man that was not moved by a motive, first. 


last, and always. Finally Mr. Lincoln believed in constant modes of 
operation in nature, continuous and unchangeable ones eternally, 
Law, in short, that ruled both matter and mind. This philosophy of 
Lincoln I have heard him state many, many times in our philosophical 
discussions, private office conversations. Mr. Lincoln was a natural, 
necessary, and inevitable-doomed Infidel logically and absolutely so ; 
he was under his law ; and it is all folly for any man to say that Mr. 
Lincoln was a Christian and believed in the efficacy of prayer. You 
might put the following words in Lincoln's mouth and they would be 
substantially true : "What can I do what can any man do what can 
the whole race molded into one man do to arrest the workings of this 
terrible, this iron, this all-powerful machine that by decree and doom 
moves in its inevitable and omnipotent way to its own ends, working 
out new life and grinding in death forever? What [can] change this 
power and arrest its operations, which are certain, absolute, and 
eternal! This vast iron machine moves in no mysterious way, moves 
with an omnipotent force. I cannot act against it. No, I cannot even 
t hmk against it !" Here you have Lincoln's philosophy, his religion, 
and his thoughts. Lincoln in his younger days tended toward scientific 
materialism, that is, he believed that behind all these phenomenal mani- 
festations of the universe there was a power that worked for righteous- 
ness, as seemed to us. He would not call that power God. He called it 
Maker. In after life he used the familiar language of the day, and 
called it God. He did not use the word God in any religious sense, 
Christian sense rather. He was most emphatically an Infidel, was so 
logically, naturally, inevitably so, as his philosophy reveals and 

Your friend, 


Springfield, 111., February 9, 1887. 
Friend Weik: 

I have read the February number of the Century, the article by 
H. and N., and find it a rather poor thing ; it is wordy and windy and 
takes no note of time for the benefit of the reader in this short life of 
ours. I [can], and so can anyone, write the substance of the article, so 
far as a knowledge of Lincoln is concerned, in ten lines. The writers 


say, tell, a good truth when they state that "Lincoln received every- 
body's confidence and rarely gave his own in return." This is most 
emphatically Lincoln. Again the "boys" state another fact namely, 
that Mr. Lincoln had great individuality which he never sank in the 
mob nor mixed it with any class of men ; his individualism stood out 
from the mass of men like a lone cliff over the plain below. Again the 
"boys" say that Mr. L. had a great dignity, and that is the truth. I do 
not use the word "boys" in any contemptuous sense. I respect them 
very much ; they are doing a good thing. Mr. Lincoln was a very plain 
man and of to a certain point easy approach, quite democratic, 
somewhat social, but beyond a certain ring of self-respect which sur- 
rounded and guarded his person no man ever dared go without a silent 
but powerful rebuff. Lincoln kept aloof from men generally, few knew 
him ; he would be cheerful and chatty, somewhat social and communica- 
tive, tell his stories, his jokes, laugh and smile, and yet you could see, 
if you had a keen sense, perception of human character, that Lincoln's 
soul was not present, that it was in another sphere; he was an ab- 
stracted and an absent-minded man ; he was with you and he was not 
with you ; he was familiar with you and yet he kept you at a distance, 
substantially saying to himself: "This nature of mine is mine alone, 
and it is sacred ground on which no man shall tread." It is well to note 
this peculiarity of Lincoln. This peculiar nature of Lincoln will ex- 
plain to you why it was that Holland never found out anything while 
here gathering up facts of Lincoln's lif e ; and it further explains why 
there was such a disagreement among the citizens of Springfield gen- 
erally as to the nature, qualities, and characteristics of L. Turn to my 
long article which I sent you the one prepared for the Tribune and 
you will see what Holland says as to the opinions of the good people of 
this city about L. Few knew the man and the many were ignorant ; and 
hence the disagreement among ourselves as to the man. Lincoln was 
reticent, secretive, incommunicable, in some, many, lines of his charac- 
ter. The "boys" do not say all that I repeat here to you ; and it is well 
to note what I say, if you wish to know the man which you are soon to 
write about. I have seen and felt all this in Lincoln a thousand times. I 
have stated all this many, many times to the reading world. See Six 
Months m the White House, see Truth Seeker, etc., etc., and other let- 
ters scattered through the papers from 1865 to 1887 and including 
my letters to you. What I say here is but a repetition, but it is well 


enough to say it again and again. Lincoln's individualism was great, 
so was his dignity, so was his reticence, abstractedness and absent- 
mindedness a peculiar man, this Abraham was. 

You ask me some questions. I never was in Kentucky, except along 
the line on the Ohio River, since the assassination of Mr. Lincoln. The 
Speeds live about four miles from Louisville. The picture which Speed 
told me about was, as I remember it, a painting, a painting possibly 
full-size, by Carpenter. The little book of which you speak is now in 
Lamon's hands ; he will not give it back to me ; it was only loaned to 
him. I'll tell you all about it when I see you, can't risk the substance in 
a letter too long and too much of it. Mrs. Dale did, I think, one day 
go to my private drawer and read part of the book, as I am informed. 
She didn't see the beautiful if she did. It is probable that I let her see 
the book it's a good long time since, and I cannot recollect every- 
thing exactly as it was in minutiae though I can in substance as well as 
I ever could, though sixty-nine years of age. I am glad that you have 
the picture of Mrs. Vineyard. 

I am not acquainted with Washburne much, though I may write to 
him or get someone to do it ; he would be a good man for our purposes 
and plans. It is prudent probably that we should not press our venture 
till we can see the publisher face to face with our manuscript in our 
hands and then, as you well say, cc We can talk business," and not well 
before. We will find in good time a publisher, fear not, despair not. 

I am glad that you are going to Kentucky in search of new facts and 
old ones, if true, on Lincoln. The Enloe business should be probed to 
the bottom, including the character of Nancy Hanks. I once saw a 
letter published, it was in some Kentucky paper, in which Miss Hanks 
was described as a cheerful, rollicking, daring, reckless "gal," break- 
ing through all rules of propriety or forms, etc., in society, and that 
she became sad while in Indiana. The man is now living and in Ken- 
tucky who wrote the letter, think his "fiz" is in the Century. However, 
you can get lots of evidence on this ground. I was told that Ben 
Hardin, old Ben of Kentucky, used the "gal" when he pleased. When 
you are done in Kentucky, if you go there first, go into the southern 
part of Indiana, taking with you, if you want to, my friend Wartman 
of Evansville. I am going to Menard court in March and I'll see what 
I can and take notes, and then write to you. I shall see Mrs. FranciSj. 
Edwards, Susan Talbott, and other people, and catch up what I can 


I shall do at all times and places just what I promise you that I will 
do. I am "sorter" insane on the question of telling the truth, and do- 
ing what I promise if I possibly can. In the meantime, rest easy. I 
cannot do all things "right" off, for I have to fight for bread and but- 
ter, and this, you know, takes time. I am busy on my farm and only 
write to you in the night or on rainy or bad days, when I cannot work. 

Your friend, 


Springfield, IU. 9 February 11, 1887. 
Friend Weik: 

Mr. Lincoln was not at all times the popular man in Sangamon 
County, the capital county of this State, L/s home, and there is a good 
reason, many reasons for it. In the first place, he was not understood 
by the mass of men ; in the second place, he was not a social man, not 
being "hail fellow well met' 5 ; and, in the third place, he was a man of his 
own ideas, had the courage of his convictions and the valor of their 
expression. Lincoln was social in spots, at courts on the circuit as we 
traveled around with the judge ; he was courageous in his ideas every- 
where and at all times. Mr. Lincoln was not a warm-hearted man, posi- 
tively so ; he was abtr acted and absent-minded. When in one of his 
moods he was abstracted and absent-minded and would not notice a 
friend on the street, though spoken to pleasantly ; he would straddle 
along, stride along, not noticing his friends nor reply to any good- 
morning salutation. All this was taken for coldness, dignity, pride, 
etc., etc., by some, and hence by that some and his friends Lincoln was 
misjudged and disliked. These moods of Lincoln, when I have met him 
on the street, caused him to pass me unnoticed, though spoken to 
warmly and kindly, and yet I know the man so well that I paid no at- 
tention to it, rather I have felt for him, sympathized with the suffer- 
ing, sorrowful, sad man. Hell was to pay in his family frequently, and 
this intensified his states. Lincoln was a m&nj-sided man and a many- 
mooded one, and how do you expect the mob to understand greatness 
in misery? I was the firm, devoted friend of Lincoln from 1833 to 
1865, and nothing could move me from my convictions of Lincoln's 
goodness, honesty, and greatness. I voted for him all the time against 
the world. I helped for years to write him up in our Ittmois Journal 


and other papers in this and other States. Lincoln and I frequently 
disagreed on measures and men, never on principle, as I now recollect 
it. Before Lincoln was assassinated, I doubted the policy and the prin- 
ciple of a tariff except for revenue alone, and today I am a radical free 
trade man. In 184749 I saw that Lincoln would ruin himself about 
the Mexican War, and his opposition to it, and so, being his friend and 
not seeing the question as he did, I tried to prevent Lincoln's destruc- 
tion. I wrote to him on the subject again and again and tried to induce 
him to silence, if nothing else; but his sense of justice and his courage 
made him speak, utter his thoughts, as to the war with Mexico. Lin- 
coln and I had many hot disputes in our office, and yet those disputes 
were friendly ones. He was never insulting nor dictatorial to me. No 
politician in America can vote and live if he opposes war in which the 
spread eagle is concerned, America. When Lincoln returned home 
from Congress in 184*9, he was a politically dead and buried man ; he 
wanted to run for Congress again, but it was no use to try. 

Judge Logan tried his hand as successor of Lincoln, but Logan was 
a failure, and a fizzle. Here was a cold, avaricious, and little mean 
man for you as the people saw him. Lincoln from 1849 to 1855 became 
a hard student and read much, studied Euclid and some mathematical 
books, read much in the political world. The repeal of the Missouri 
Compromise Acts roused Lincoln, waked him up to his new oppor- 
tunities, and he seized them, and you know the result. Lincoln was 
born out of the war and given to the manhood of glory, such is life 
with an opportunity, verily 

There's a divinity that shapes our ends^ 
Rough-hew them how we will. 

Now, as to Lincoln's ideas, the courage of his convictions, and the 
valor of their expression. First, Mr. Lincoln as early as 1836 issued a 
political handbill in which he declared himself for woman's rights. His 
keen sense of justice could not refuse woman the rights which he de- 
manded for himself, said to me often that that question was one of time 
only. Secondly, he in 1835-36 wrote a little book against Christianity, 
which was burned by Samuel Hill, his friend ; he often in conversations 
as late as 1850 aired [ ?] his ideas in this city. I have heard him, so has 
Judge Matheny, Stuart, and many others. Thirdly, in 1844, 1 think, 


he advocated temperance in 1844* before the Washingtonian Society, 
both temperance and the society being somewhat unpopular at that 
time. The Washingtonian Society was formed by a dozen or more 
drunkards; and the elite and Christians of this city more or less 
turned up their nice noses at the men and what they advocated. Nearly 
all men drank during those days, and hence to run up against custom 
and habit quite universal was unpopular. Fourthly, Lincoln bitterly 
opposed the Mexican War, as you know ; he did so while political death 
stared him in the face ; it buried him and yet "he arose on the third 
day" and became our national savior. Fifthly, he opposed slavery 
everywhere and at all times when to oppose it was political death. From 
1820 to 1860 it was a time of "doughfaces" in the North. Lincoln 
turned his face to flint on this question and stood firm on his con- 
science. Sixthly, he opposed the repeal of the Missouri Compromise of 
181920 with all his soul, first, on the grounds of policy and, secondly, 
on principle. The repeal was for a time Democratic, pro-slavery, and 
popular; but Lincoln with others made the repeal unpopular and 
justly odious. This repeal was his grand opportunity, and he seized it 
and rode to glory on the popular waves. Seventhly, he advocated the 
policy of free immigration of foreigners and their right to vote, when 
Americanism here was popular and rampant. The question arose in 
this city as to the right of foreigners, who had not been naturalized, 
though they had lived in this State as residents for six months or a 
year as the case might be, to vote at our city election. I was city at- 
torney at that time, as I now remember it, and it was my duty as such 
officer to see that no one illegally voted and to have them punished for 
such violation of the charter and ordinances of the city. The question 
was a doubtful one, one in which different but honest opinions could 
be expressed. I spoke, as attorney of the city I think, to Lincoln about 
the question, showed him the laws of the State, the charter of the 
city, and its ordinances, with changes in the State law, and asked him 
his opinion of the law. After looking over the matter and taking his 
time, he said to me: "The question is a doubtful one, and the for- 
eigner is taxed by the city, and it is but justice that they should vote 
on all questions of city policy or interest." The precise question was : 
Does a general law passed by the Legislature repeal a city charter 
without including it, naming it directly or by just inference? I said 
"no" and this cut off many votes ; it was compromised at last, how- 


ever. The Whigs, Lincoln being one, were opposed to the foreigners' 
right to vote in city matters. Lincoln dared be just and stand bolt up- 
right. Eighthly, Mr. Lincoln opposed Know-Nothingism in all its 
phases, everywhere, and at all times when it was sweeping over the 
land like wildfire ; he and I stood shoulder to shoulder on this as well as 
all the questions mentioned herein except as stated. Ninthly ; Mr. Lin- 
coln had the courage to issue his Proclamation of Emancipation when 
one side of the Republican party said that he was too cowardly to do 
it, and the other side said that the issue of the proclamation at this 
time would lose the fall election for the Republican party ; he had de- 
cided to issue it and he decided this time. The proclamation came as by 
doom. He had the courage in his Greeley letter to say that what he did 
or failed to do about emancipation, etc., etc., was not done for the 
Negro, was done to save the Union. Nor could the Senate of the United 
States drive Lincoln to dismiss Secretary Seward ; and, tentHLy and 
lastly, when Mason and Slidell had been arrested by Captain Wilkes of 
the San Jaclnto and the press and the people all over the land were 
wild with enthusiasm over the glorious event, demanding the punish- 
ment of these traitors, when the Secretary of War, the Secretary of 
State, and his Cabinet were wild and furious for the punishment of 
these men, one cool head and one brave heart rose up and said sub- 
stantially : "This must not be, these men must be released, one war at 
a time. To punish these men now would cause a war between England 
and America, and that is just what the South wants. Take off the 
shackles from these men, open the doors of their prison, and apologize 
to England/* and so it was done, though a bitter pill to take under the 
circumstances. England will some day rue her course. Here stands 
Lincoln a brave and a great soul who had the courage of his convic- 
tions, his ideas, and the swift valor of their expression. How do you 
like the man, friend Weik? 

Your friend, 


Had not Mr. Lincoln been assassinated just when he was, he would 
have governed the Republican party during his second term or it 
would have crushed him if it could. There would have been a struggle 
over policies and measures. 


Lincoln's ideas with his courage made him at times unpopular. 


Springfield, IU. 9 February 16, 1887. 
Friend Weik: 

Probably I have told you this story before and, if so, excuse me. 
From the time that Lincoln and I entered into partnership in the fall 
of 1843, 1 was quite a reader in biographical literature. Seeing a no- 
tice of a fine Life of Burke, the English orator and statesman, I or- 
dered it from C. S. Francis & Co., of New York. I read it carefully, two 
weeks, and liked it very much. One morning I had it on our table and 
was looking over some few pages, which I was desirous of reading 
again, when Lincoln came into our office ; he looked rather cheerful and 
pleasant. We spoke kindly to each other, passed the compliments of 
the morning, etc. I said, still thinking of the book: "Lincoln, do you 
not wish to read an excellent and eloquent Life of Burke, the English 
orator and statesman?" and at the same time handing him the book; 
he took it in his hands and hastily ran over some of the pages of it, 
reading a little here and there, and then, handing me back the book, 
said : "No, I don't want to read it. Biographies as written are false and 
misleading. The author of the Life of his love paints him as a perfect 
man, magnifies his perfections and suppresses his imperfections, de- 
scribes the success of his love in glowing terms, never once hinting at 
his failures and his blunders. Why do not," said Lincoln, "book mer- 
chants and sellers have blank biographies on their shelves always ready 
for sale, so that, when a man dies, if his heirs, children, and friends 
wish to perpetuate the memory of the dead, they can purchase one 
already written, but with blanks^ which they can fill up eloquently and 
grandly at pleasure, thus commemorating a lie, an injury to the dying 
and to the name of the dead?" 

This Mr. Lincoln said to me in substance just as I have it. I felt the 
force of what he said, because I had thought the same, I may some- 
times repeat stories to you, not keeping any record of what I do write. 
In writing so much to you, how can I help it? Could you, if you kept no 


Springfield, JZZ., February 18, 1887. 
Friend Weik : 

... On Saturday evening I was called out to write the will of Ben- 


jamin Bancroft, and at the house of Bancroft I found an old friend of 
Lincoln, whose name is Fisk ; he told me the following story, which is 
correct. A man by the name of Pollard Simmons was a good friend of 
Lincoln in 183436. John Calhoun was the surveyor of Sangamon 
County, was "the candle-box Calhoun" and a Democrat in 1834-36. 
Simmons loved Lincoln, who was very poor at that time, and he tried 
to get Lincoln in some business ; he applied to Calhoun as the friend of 
Lincoln to give him a deputy ship in the surveying business. Calhoun, 
as Simmons remembers it, gave Lincoln a deputyship. Simmons got 
on his horse and went on the hunt of Lincoln, whom he found in the 
woods mauling rails. Simmons said : "Lincoln, I've got you a job," and 
to which Lincoln replied : "Pollard, I thank you for your trouble, but 
now let me ask you a question. Do I have to give up any of my princi- 
ples for this job? If I have to surrender any thought or principle to 
get it, I wouldn't touch it with a ten-foot pole." "No, you do not, Lin- 
coln," said Pollard Simmons, and to which Lincoln replied : "I'll ac- 
cept the office, and now I thank you and my superior for it." 

You wish me to state some of Lincoln's customs and habits about the 
office in Springfield. Well, when he got to the office about 9 o'clock in 
the morning, the very first thing that he did was to pick up some news- 
papers, if I had not hidden them, and read them aloud, much to my dis- 
comfort ; he would spread himself out on the sofa, one leg on a chair 
and another on the table or stove. I have often said to Lincoln : "Why, 
Lincoln, do you always read aloud?" and to which he said: "When I 
read aloud, my two senses catch the idea. First, I see what I am read- 
ing and, secondly, I hear it read, and I can thus remember what I read 
the better." Sometimes Lincoln would read something in the papers 
and that would suggest to him an idea and he would say : "That puts 
me in mind of a story that I heard down in Egypt in Illinois" ; and then 
he would tell the story, and that story would suggest another, and so 
on. Nothing was done that morning. Declarations, briefs, pleas, and 
demurrers were flung to the winds. It was useless to attempt to read 
any more that morning. Sometimes Lincoln would, when his wife had 
gone to church or when she had kicked him out of the house, bring to 
the office Willie and Tad these little devils to me, so bad were they, 
but now little angels, I hope. These children would take down the 
books, empty ash buckets, coal ashes, inkstand, papers, gold pens, let- 
ters, etc., etc., in a pile and then dance on the pile. Lincoln would say 


nothing, so abstracted was he and so blinded to his children's faults. 

Had they s 1 in Lincoln's hat and rubbed it on his boots, he would 

have laughed and thought it smart. Lincoln was a fool in this line. 
Lincoln was a selfish man generally and especially in the political 
world but was blindly generous to his own. He worshiped his children 
and 'what they worshiped ; he loved what they loved and hated what 
they hated rather, disliked what they hated, which was everything 
that did not bend to their freaks, whims, follies, and the like. But poor 
Lincoln and Willie and Tad. I am now sorry that I used to hate the 
children. I regret it, but human flesh could not have borne it better 
than I did. I did it out of pure and perfect respect for Lincoln. 

In our disputes on law points on principles in any line Lincoln 
was never to me insulting nor domineering; he was cool and patient, 
kind and tender. We used to discuss philosophy, which I have written 
to you so much about. Lincoln never read much law, and never did I see 
him read a law book through, and no one else ever did. Politics were 
Lincoln's life and newspapers his food. I'll keep on this line a little 

Your friend, 


A law office is a dry place for incidents of a pleasing kind. If you 
love the stories of murder, rape, fraud, etc., a law office is a good place, 
but, good Lord, let me forget all about a law office. 


Springfield, IE., February %4, 1887. 
Friend Weik : 

As I said to you, a law office is a dry place. There is nothing in it 
but work and toil. Mr. Lincoln's habit was to get down to his office 
about 9 a.m., unless he was out on the circuit, which was about six or 
eight months in the year. Our office never was a headquarters for 
politics. Mr. Lincoln never stopped in the street to have a social chat 
with anyone ; he was not a social man, too reflective, too abstracted ; 
he never attended political gatherings till the thing was organized, 
and then he was ready to make a speech, willing and ready to reap any 
advantage that grew out of it, ready and anxious for the office it af- 
forded, if any in the political world. If a man came into our office &m 


business, he stated his case, Lincoln listening generally attentively 
while the man told over the facts of his case. Generally Lincoln would 
take a little time to consider. When he had sufficiently considered, he 
gave his opinion of the case plainly, directly, and sharply ; he said to 
the man : "Your case is a good one/ 5 or "a bad one," as the case might 
be. Mr. Lincoln was not a good conversationalist, except it was in the 
political world, nor was he a good listener ; his great anxiety to tell a 
story made him burst in and consume the day in telling stories. Lin- 
coln was not a general reader, except in politics. On Sundays he would 
come down to his office, sometimes bringing Tad and Willie and some- 
times not, would write his letters, write declarations and other law 
papers, write out the heads of his speeches, take notes of what he in- 
tended to say. How do you expect to get much of interest out of this 
dry bone, a law office, when you know that Lincoln was a sad, gloomy, 
melancholic, and an abstracted man? Lincoln would sometimes lie 
down in the office to rest on the sofa, his feet on two or three chairs or 
up against the wall. In this position he would reflect, decide on what 
he was going to do and how to do it ; and then he would jump up, pick 
up his hat and run, the good Lord knows where. Judge Davis was 
judge over, I think, ten counties, and it generally took him six to 
eight months to go around this circuit twice a year. Lincoln would 
never come home while the court was grinding out justice on the cir- 
cuit, to see his wife or family ; while all other lawyers, every Saturday 
night after court hours, would start for home to see wife and babies. 
Lincoln would see us start home and know that we were bound to see 
good wife and the children. Lincoln, poor soul, would grow terribly sad 
at the sight, as much as to say : "I have no wife and no home." None of 
us on starting home would say to Lincoln: "Come, Lincoln, let's go 
home," for we knew the terrors of home to him. I can see poor Lincoln 
now as we turn our backs on each other, one bound for home and one 
back to the courthouse. It's too sad to think about. I wish I did not 
know it all. Lincoln, you know, was not a social man, and hence those 
little mcidents in his office and around his hearth which you want so 
much are hard to gather and to get, for they are few and far between. 
You know the relation between Mr. and Mrs. Lincoln and you ought 
to know by this time that the rich incidents at that house were those 
of an unpleasant nature. You had better see Mrs. Chapman of Coles 
County on the subject, the question of rich incidents. I know that she 


can tell you much about the customs, habits, methods of life, etc., 
about Lincoln's home. 

You wish me to state what year Lincoln and I entered into partner- 
ship ; it was in the fall of 1843, and that partnership was never dis- 
solved till the evening of his assassination. . . . You further wish me 
to state what the motives were that actuated Lincoln in taking me into 
partnership. I answer, I don't know and no one else does. The Rev- 
erend J. A. Reed of this city knows all about God, and why does he 
not know all about Lincoln? Reed is simply foolish in his attacks on 
me, because I said and published that Lincoln was an Infidel. Reed is 
a little bitter Christian and that's all there is of it. ... 

Your friend, 


Mr. Weik, I do not like to talk about myself, have never followed 
that practice, and never will. I may say to you that Lincoln never re- 
gretted our partnership and that's enough. 


The Hon. John T. Stuart got mad at Lincoln and myself because 
Lincoln did not take him into partnership in 184*3, and he pursued us 
all his life with more or less bitterness on the sly. 


SprmgfieU, Itt., February 25, 1887. 
Friend Weik : 

I want this to go in our book, at least in substance. Mr. Lincoln's 
philosophy was as follows : First, he believed that what was to be would 
be and that no prayers of ours could arrest or reverse the decree. Sec- 
ondly, he was a fatalist and believed that fatalism ruled the world. 
Thirdly, he believed that conditions made and do make and will for- 
ever continue to make the man and not man the conditions. Fourthly, 
he believed that there was no freedom of the human mind ; and, fifthly, 
he believed that universal, absolute, and eternal laws ruled the uni- 
verse of matter and of mind, everywhere and always. Mr. Lincoln also 
contended that motives moved the man to every voluntary act of his 
life. If the above was Lincoln's philosophy or a part of it, then many 
acts of his life may be justly interpreted and the man better under- 
stood by it. Lincoln's patience sprang from his philosophy ; his calm 


quiet waiting on the events of the times, his coolness, calmness under 
the times of terrible bloody war, his charity for men and his want of 
malice for them everywhere, all grew out of his peculiar philosophy. 
Lincoln neither loved nor hated, never admired and never censured, 
never eulogized and never condemned man. I speak of Lincoln's general 
nature. Is this true and, if so, why is it true? Men had no free choice; 
things were to be, and they came, irresistibly came, doomed to come ; 
men were made as they are made by superior conditions over which 
they had no control ; the fates settled things as by the doom of the 
powers, and laws, universal, absolute, and eternal, ruled the universe 
of matter and of mind. Men were but simple tools of fate, of conditions, 
and of laws, and to praise men on the one hand or censure them on the 
other was in the abstract wrong in principle at all times. The thing, 
the event, was to be just as it had come, and no right and no wrong and 
no virtue and no vice should in truth be attached to it. The man, the 
people, but obeyed their superiors. The man, the people, and the whole 
race are made by forces, conditions, environments, around them, set 
in motion a million years or more ago, sweeping swiftly around the 
universe every instant of time, never flagging, ever onward. . . . 

Man is compelled to feel, think, will, and to act subject to the in- 
fluences of these conditions ; he, man, is a mere child moved and made 
by this vast world machine, working in grooves and moving in deep-cut 
channels forever and forever; and now what is man? He is simply a 
simple tool, a mere cog in one wheel, a part, a small part, of this vast 
iron machine that strikes and cuts, grinds and mashes, all things, in- 
cluding man, that resist it. Events, the fates, decreed them, and what 
they decree is irresistible and inevitable, and no prayers of ours can 
arrest or reverse the decree. What a man is, he is because of the condi- 
tions of the universe and is entitled to no credit and should have no 
blame attached to him for the deed. If a man did Lincoln a grievous 
wrong, the man was a mere tool, and did but obey his superiors. If the 
man did him a good, he but obeyed the powers and should not suffer for 
the wrong nor [be] praised nor paid for the right. The man was com- 
pelled, driven, to do what he did do. It was to be and had come. If a 
man was good or bad, small or great, successful or unsuccessful, filled 
with virtue or overflowing with vice, and if war, pestilence, or famine 
stalked abroad over the land, it all was doomed from the beginning. 
Lincoln was patient and calmly waited on events ; he knew they would 


come, because cause and effect, antecedents and consequents, are ever 
in action following laws. Every event in the universe was preceded by 
some prior cause and gave guarantee of some subsequent event flowing 
therefrom. It is possible that Lincoln did not fully believe that Brutus 
was specially made to kill Caesar in the Senate Chamber of Rome with 
a dagger and that Caesar was specially made to be killed by Brutus ; 
and yet he would believe, because it is true, that both Brutus and 
Caesar were forced by conditions over which they had no control into 
the inevitable paths and center of forces that destroyed Caesar and 
made in one short moment a criminal of Brutus and a murderer. 

Now one word as to Mr. Lincoln's religion. From Mr. Lincoln's ten- 
der heart and large head, from his philosophy and from his feelings, 
his thoughts, his determinations, his willings, and his acts throughout 
life, one is compelled to say that Lincoln's religion was of a broad and 
noble kind a liberal, an infidel, one who did not believe that the Bible 
is God's special and divine revelation. 

This is all that I propose to say, where I have the say, about Lin- 
coln's philosophy or his religion ; it is a good condensation of all that I 
have said to you on that subject; and all that is necessary to say. 
What is said is true and will offend no one, as I see it. The truth ought 
not to offend, where that truth is stated in a kindly and gentle, manly 
way, said to explain the nature, qualities, and characteristics of one 
of God's great men, who once was with us and for us. 

Your friend, 

This is a good condensation of all that I have said to you on the 
special subjects herein; and will probably supersede all other letters, 
lectures, etc. This does not exclude Lincoln's sadness, etc., and the 
philosophy of it. I'll explain when I see you. 

Sfiingfield, IB., March 16, 1887. 
Friend Weik: 

Enclosed you will find a good notice of Nicolay and Hay's work 
which I cut from Puck of March 9, 1887; it is an excellent thing and 
shows plainly that N. and H. have introduced too much collateral and 
unimportant matter that does not touch any part of Lincoln's life, 
fact, philosophy, religion, qualities, characteristics, etc. N. and H. 


have entered too deeply in trash, nonsense, collateral f acts, unim- 
portant events and persons ; they have wearied the people, tired them 
out. In writing our book let us avoid this step this fatal step. Let us 
see the mark and shoot for that directly as with a rifle for the center. 
In other words let us write directly of Lincoln and Lincoln alone, leav- 
ing off facts and principles that do not touch Lincoln. Strip Lincoln 
naked and write of him and of him alone. All facts that explain Lin- 
coln ? s life, his religion, philosophy, his politics, his domestic life, etc., 
etc., should be directly stated, honestly fairly and impartially. 
Throw light on this great man and not cloud him by verbiage, nor 
bury him under a mass of unimportant facts and persons this is our 
duty. This is my idea. The people in this city are getting tired of 
N. and H.'s Life of Lincoln ; they laugh at it in Menard where I have 
been. I will soon send you some information that I got while in Menard ; 
was sick during court and couldn't do much. I saw Mrs. Bell and she is 
to make us out a copy of the quilt on which Lincoln stuck a stitch or 
two, with a % eye on the needle and 1% eyes on Ann Rutledge. It is the 
universal opinion of the old folk of Menard that Lincoln and Ann were 
engaged to be married absolutely. I have examined the right ones on 
this question people that know and who are truthful. 

Your friend, 


Section Four 

Springfield, IU., AprU 16, 1887. 
Friend Whitney * : 

Your very kind letter, dated the 3d inst., was duly received. On going 
to the city late on Saturday, one week ago, I found your letter await- 
ing me. It was late in the evening and I had to go home six miles from 
the city, and this state of facts is my excuse for long, long delay to 
you. I have carefully read your note and I see nothing in it that is not 
true. You hit Lincoln very well. He was a curious man and was moved 
by his words. Lincoln had no home, just as you say. He had a domestic 
hell that he did not like and went there only to eat and sleep. Lincoln 
ought never to have married anyone. He had no quality for a husband. 
He was abstracted, cool, never loved, and could not from his very na- 
ture. What you say about Lincoln is substantially correct. 

I cannot now tell you where you can get any of my four or five lec- 
tures on Lincoln. I never thought enough of them to preserve them, 
though others stenographed them and were thus sent over the coun- 
try. Nicolay and Hay are failing and, as you will say, are getting 
"worse and worse." As to Lincoln's stories I do not remember any that 
would do to state to a mixed audience in a lecture. They would cut 
someone on some point. Yes, I am going to write the Life of Lincoln 
as I saw him, honestly, truthfully, courageously, fearlessly, cut where 
it may. What you say about Lincoln's gloom, sadness, high exaltation, 
is substantially correct. Lincoln felt the Honor and the Burden, but he 
was Lincoln still. The exaltation made him more thoughtful and more 
abstracted and more gloomy and to that extent more miserable. Lin- 
coln once said to me this : "I fear that I shall meet with some terrible 
end," and this cloud always hung over him. I will answer your note, 
the parts unanswered, as soon as I can. 

Your friend, 


Hope you success in your lectures. 


i An attorney in Chicago. See reference to him in the letter to Bartlett of July 27* 
1887, below. 



Springfield, Itt., June 8, 1887. 
Mr. Bartlett. 
My dear Sir : 

Your letter dated the 27th ult. was duly received and in reply to 
which let me say : I have a photograph of President Lincoln. The one 
I have is taken with the right cheek, the right side of the face, to the 
observer, hair tossed upside down, necktie on and collar turned down. 
If you have not got this, I can possibly send you one or I will loan you 
mine or give it to you if I must. This photo was taken in Chicago, as I 
understand it, in 1857. 

I am glad to know that you are an artist and will assist you all I can 
in photos or otherwise. I have carefully read the criticisms or notices 
of your Life of Rimmer, the artist. The notices are good and written 
in good taste. By the way, about twenty-five or thirty years ago I saw 
a notice of a work in art, published in some Boston paper. I sent for 
the work, got it, read it with pleasure and profit. It was enthusias- 
tically written. I admired the book. Was it written by Rimmer? It may 
be that you were the author. I am not an artist but a lover of the 
beautiful in every direction. I hope that you are executing a bust or 
something of the kind of Lincoln. 

Let me subscribe myself, 
Your friend, 


Springfield, IU., June 24, 1887. 
Mr. Bartlett. 
My dear Sir : 

Your kind letter, dated the 14<th in$t. f was duly received. At the time 
I received your letter I got the photo of Lincoln from the steel engrav- 
ing by T. Dewey, and with it came your photo of your sketch in clay. 
The steel engraving is very good and so is your sketch in clay. The 
photo from the steel engraving and the one I have are alike excepting 
the one I have has no whiskers on it. I today send you the one which I 
have and which you are welcome to. I send you the photo from the steel 
engraving likewise, as you may need it. What I meant when I said that I 
would assist you was this : I would if you wished gather up for you 


photos, ambrotypes, etc., such as I could find here. I am glad that you 
have a copy of Mr. Lincoln's life mask and admire your determination 
in going to Paris, the city of science. I hope that the artists and phys- 
iognomists of Paris will give you a scientific and candid judgment 
which will be a revelation of Lincoln, objectively and subjectively. Lin- 
coln was a mystery, a wonderful man. I hope that you will give voice to 
your own thoughts about Lincoln when you get ready. I once de- 
livered in this city three or four lectures on Lincoln in which I gave my 
poor opinion of the man, and if you will get a copy of Six Months m the 
White House by the artist Carpenter, you will find, toward the end of 
it, my views in substance. It is a small book and indexed. The substance 
was stenographed by a friend. I think that the book will help you. I 
knew Lincoln well for more than a quarter of a century and I studied 
the man inside and outside as well as I could. You speak of Mr. Lin- 
coln's fine physical nature, but to see and study the man you would 
say that Mr. Lincoln's physical nature was comparatively low, 
coarse, and not fine and high. He seemed to have no blood in his frame, 
his flesh was dark, wrinkled, and folded ; it looked dry and leathery, 
tough and everlasting ; his eyes were small and gray ; head small and 
forehead receding ; but when this great man was moved by some great 
or good feeling by some idea of liberty or justice or right then he 
seemed an inspired man. It was just then that Lincoln's nature was 
beautiful and in complete harmony with the laws of the great Eternal. 
I have seen him in this enshrined condition and thought that he was 
molded in the spirits but mad. Lincoln was a great man, a good man, 
and a pure one, and beneath his rough exterior nature wove her fine 
network of nerve. In Six Months in the White House I tried to de- 
scribe Lincoln. This book may assist you; it will not do you any 
harm. . . . 

May I say to your private ear that I am engaged in writing the Life 
of Lincoln, the special purpose of it being to fill a blank, as I see it? I 
could tell you much about Lincoln if I could sit down and talk with 
you for a day or so, but we are too far apart to sit down in chairs and 
chat. I forgot to say above that in my poor opinion Lincoln had not 
arrived, when he was assassinated, at the meridian of his intellectual 

Your friend, 
W. EL 


Springfield, Itt., July 8, 1887. 
Mr. Bartlett. 
My Friend : 

I received your letter and note dated the 28th uLt. 9 for which please 
accept my thanks. At the time that the letter and note came to hand I 
received the two photos of Mr. Lincoln. I thank you for them too. The 
history of the photo in Garrison's possession is, I think, as follows: 
Mr. Garrison, even after Mr. Lincoln's assassination, came out to Il- 
linois, came to my house and stayed with me some seven or eight days ; 
he and my wife seemed to enjoy each other's company. Garrison and I 
went out to see Lincoln's monument, etc., etc. While he was my guest 
he presented me with the photos of himself and wife, that is, he gave 
them to my wife ; they are now in her album and in her possession. My 
wife says that she in return gave Garrison Lincoln's photo, thinks 
that she recognizes this as the one, the original now in Garrison's pos- 
session. My good wife dearly loved Garrison and is now in the prime of 
her life. I do not think that she is mistaken as to the facts, though she 
may possibly be. It is a fact that she did give Garrison Lincoln's photo. 
By the way, the photo about which I am talking is an excellent one of 
Lincoln, the very best one ever taken of him. The artist caught him in 
a good humor, state, mental condition, feeling, thought, or what you 
will. Again I thank you for it. As soon as I can get time I will go into 
our photo galleries and look over the photos, and if I see any thing 
good or bad, I'll send it to you, if I can get it. I am busy right now. I 
had to deliver a Fourth of July notice in an adjoining court on the 
Fourth and hence got a little behindhand will soon catch up. 

(In your letter of the 28th idt. you state in these words : "When I 
spoke of Lincoln's fine physical nature I meant it from a physical point 
of view, that is, I would say he had a fine physical nature, was tall, 
healthy, strong, mobile in movement, and of good proportion." I un- 
derstood you, and now you will pardon me if I state that he was not of 
good proportion, was six feet four inches high in his sock feet, was 
thin, wiry, sinewy, not MUSCULAR, weighed from 160 to 180 pounds; 
and if you mean by the word mobUe, nimbleness of motion, ease of 
movement, grace of movement, you are mistaken. If you mean to say 
and I do not so understand you that, by the word mobUe> you mean 
that Lincoln had mutability of temper, then you are correct. There 
were great contrast* in Lincoln's life, mysterious ones. Sometimes Lin- 


coin was great, very great, and sometimes small. He was strong and 
he was weak ; he was sad and cheerful by turns ; he was good-natured 
generally, but it was terrible to see him mad ; he was all honor, full of 
manly integrity, sympathetic, practically wise, politically sagacious, 
never moved nor acted from mere feeling, but from thought, reason ; 
he was cool, conservative, and courageous, was truly a noble man. 
When you read Six Months in the White House by Carpenter, please 
tell me what impression it had on you as to Lincoln. You are correct 
when you say that Lincoln's brain was one of QUALITY and not size.) 
Will you please pardon me for being so plain, outspoken? You ask me 
if iever saw in this great wild West many men of Lincoln's type* and 
to which I answer, yes. The first settlers of central and southern Il- 
linois were men of that type. They came from the limestone regions of 
Virginia, Kentucky, Tennessee, etc., and were men of giant strength, 
physically fine and by nature were mentally strong. They were orig- 
inals, were individualists. They had no education and no culture, but 
good nature helped them. The strong alone from 1818 to 1830 could 
get here, and the strong alone could survive here. Some of these men 
were politicians, some lawyers, some farmers, etc. No one was like 
Lincoln, and yet many men were of his type. I cannot now further ex- 
plain than to say that conditions made this class of men may ex- 
plain to you sometime. Limestone water, so scientists say, gave us big 
frames, and the struggle for life in this urbanship and the South gave 
us, if you please, mental fire. A forest life makes us sad and thought- 
ful I think that by nature we were a great people. We were rude and 
rough, had no polish, no culture. Each man and woman was himself or 
herself individually; distinct individuality was the rule. Each fol- 
lowed his inclinations and despised imitation. Lincoln was Lincoln,. 
Grant Grant, Douglas was Douglas. Had Lincoln been a man of high 
culture, polish, of literary taste, habits, etc., etc., he may have been a 
good country lawyer that's all. I hope that you understand me ; can't 
by letter fully explain. 

(You are entirely correct about the study of Lincoln ; he was a man 
of "extraordinary contrasts*' he was Lincoln and Lincoln alone, and 
none exactly like him. You must study him by himself and from him- 
self. The reason why I stated so much about Lincoln in my former let- 
ter was this ; Give a sculptor one fact, a leading physical fact, and that 
suggests to him another in complete harmony with the other, Lincoln 


had large hands and feet foot flat. Hence a large frame, etc., etc. 
Lincoln's religion was practical and hence materialistic, and hence 
to a certain extent was his organization, etc. I speak generally. Yon 
would not look for a well-minded man in such a description. I have 
studied Lincoln inside and outside. Pardon me. I describe him to yon 
as I saw him and knew him. I loved the man and worship, as it were, 
his memory. I owe to truth a fidelity and mean to pursue that course to 
the end.) 

I hope that your son will succeed to his and his father's satisfaction. 
I and my countrymen shall be proud of him, glad to know that he 
pleased the jury of French artists. I have often thought that the age 
of the sculptor was gone, but I hope not ; so I have thought of paint- 
ing and poetry, but I hope not, hope that I am mistaken. 

You state one fine truth as the world thinks and moves ; and it is 
this : "It is a sorry fact of human nature that the great truth about a 
man is not preferred to an artificial estimate of him, even by those 
who are supposed to love him best/' Hero worship, the worship of the 
ideal in man, is the spirit of the age. Fact gives place to the ideal and 
truth ; solid fact gives place to the imagination, and firmly revels in 
the unreal. I have been much abused for telling the truth about Lin- 
coln ; and this I shall continue to do. Lincoln will rise in the estimation 
of mankind the higher, the more thoroughly he is known, because that 
estimate will be formed from facts truthfully and courageously told. 
When public opinion is thus formed, it never changes ; it rests on fact 
on eternal verities. 

Your friend, 


Springfield, M., JuLy 11, 1887. 
Mr. Bartlett. 
My dear Sir : 

On going to the city from my country home on Saturday last I found 
awaiting me your very kind letter, dated the 4th inst., and the Art Life 
of William Rirwner. I am much obliged to you for the letter and the 
precious book. The typography, the mechanical execution of the book, 
is excellent. The literary, the thought department, must be as good or 
better. I shall read the book carefully and preserve it foreYer* Poor 


William Rimmer, how he felt the shock and sting of this, to some, cold 
world! William was a genius. Genius always flutters around the pivot 
of insanity, is shy, somewhat unsocial, retired, sensitive, with a heart, 
head, tuned to the harmony of the universe ; hut how it suffers ! 

The article which you sent me about Lincoln and Douglas is untrue 
in part, in the main part. Mr. Lincoln only corrected his speeches, 
made them talk as he had talked on the stump. This he did and no more. 
His corrections were only verbal and not otherwise. Mr. Lincoln told 
me how it was. I will refresh my memory and correct the note some 
time. You ask me to state to you Mr. Lincoln's attitude, pose, look, 
acts, gestures, etc., etc., while in the act of speaking, addressing bodies 
of people. I will do so just as soon as I can see some old friends who 
were close observers of Mr. Lincoln. We will have a talk and then I will 
write to you in full. I have seen Mr. Lincoln in every possible human 
attitude, have heard him speak for many years. 

I am glad that you like my stenographed lecture in Six Months in 
the White House by Carpenter. I thank you for the compliment in your 
letter. I hope that will excel my poor effort in your work, and think 
you will. I will give you when I can the causes of Lincoln's sadness, 
gloom, and melancholy, his suffering, etc., but it must be kept a private 
matter for a while. 

Your friend, 


I will gladly receive any photos you may send me and in looking over 
them I will give you my opinion. The Garrison one will be among the 
best, as I think. Hurriedly, H. 

Springfield, HL 9 July 17, 1887. 
Friend Whitney : 

In your last letter to me, dated the 4th mst. 9 you state that Hesler 
has three photos of Lincoln one taken in Chicago in 1857, one in this 

city m I860, and one in Washington in taken with whiskers. As 

I understand, you say that you can send me one. I will thank you for 
the one in *60 ; and if you can send me the one in *57, and for which I 
shall be under many obligations to you. 

I will willingly, as I have time, give you any opinion which I haire 
rf Lincoln, The truth and the whole truth about Lincoln wiH never 


injure him. He will grow larger under the blaze of truth and the sharp- 
est criticisms of the iron few. He was too great, too good, and too 
noble to be injured by truth. He had his faults, more negative ones, and 
who has not some of these spots? The blazing sun has them and so did 
Jesus have them. What would you give for a true life of Washington 
the inside life of him? The great reading growing world shall have one 
of Lincoln, if I live, but I will catch the devil for so doing. The world 
demands truth and truth it shall have. Lincoln was a curious, wonder- 
ful, mysterious man, incomprehensible by the mass of men. I studied 
Mr. Lincoln for twenty-five years, inside and outside. He was a man of 
opposites, of terrible contrasts. One man today would see Lincoln in 
one state and the man would say this was Lincoln. Tomorrow this same 
man would see Lincoln in a totally different state and say this was not 
Lincoln, and yet it was, for Lincoln 'was under his law, and that ruled 
him with the iron of logic. This caused, these contrasts in Lincoln 
caused, the differences of opinions among men in relation to Lincoln. 

Your friend, 


Mr. Lincoln was a many-mooded man. One man would see this mood 
and one man that, and from seeing Lincoln in one mood each man 
would form his opinion on one phase of L., and hence the errors of 
judgment among the people as to L. 

Springfield, JZZ., Jvly 19, 1887. 
Mr. Bartlett. 
My dear Sir : 

I will now answer your questions put to me in your letter of the 
4th inst. In this State and especially about the center of it we have no 
tables, boxes, stands, behind which we address and speak either to 
jurors or to crowds. It is open before us and we speak from the level 
floor where we address the jury and about on a level with them. Some- 
times the jurors are raised a little, the back seat being higher than the 
front, so that those behind can see and hear. We speak from stumps 
in the woods, if no better can be had, from boxes, from rude and tem- 
porary platforms erected in groves, woods, or public squares in cities 
or villages. Everything is open, visible, and clear. We have no tables, 
boxes, boards, planks to hit, beat, and to bang. The speaker stands out 


fully to public view, and the crowd is seen plainly by the speaker so 
much for circumlocution to catch an idea. 

Mr. Lincoln was six feet and four inches high in his sock feet ; he 
was consumptive by build and hence more or less stoop-shouldered. He 
was very tall, thin, and gaunt. When he rose to speak to the jury or to 
crowds of people, he stood inclined forward, was awkward, angular, 
ungainly, odd, and, being a very sensitive man, I think that it added to 
his awkwardness ; he was a diffident man, somewhat, and a sensitive one, 
and both of these added to his oddity, awkwardness, etc., as it seemed 
to me. Lincoln had confidence, full and complete confidence in himself, 
self -thoughtful, self-helping, and self-supporting, relying on no man. 
Lincoln's voice was, when he first began speaking, shrill, squeaking, 
piping, unpleasant ; his general look, his form, his pose, the color of his 
flesh, wrinkled and dry, his sensitiveness, and his momentary diffidence, 
everything seemed to be against him, but he soon recovered. I can see 
him now, in my mind distinct. On rising to address the jury or the 
crowd he quite generally placed his hands behind him, the back part 
of his left hand resting in the palm of his right hand. As he proceeded 
and grew warmer, he moved his hands to the front of his person, gen- 
erally interlocking his fingers and running one thumb around the 
other. Sometimes his hands, for a short while, would hang by his side. 
In still growing warmer, as he proceeded in his address, he used his 
hands especially and generally his right hand in his gestures; he 
used his head a great deal in speaking, throwing or jerking or moving 
it now here and now there, now in this position and now in that, in 
order to be more emphatic, to drive the idea home. Mr. Lincoln never 
beat the air, never sawed space with his hands, never acted for stage 
effect ; was cool, careful, earnest, sincere, truthful, fair, self-possessed, 
not insulting, not dictatorial ; was pleasing, good-natured ; had great 
strong naturalness of look, pose, and act ; was clear in his ideas, simple 
in his words, strong, terse, and demonstrative ; he spoke and acted to 
convince individuals and masses ; he used in his gestures his right hand, 
sometimes shooting out that long bony forefinger of his to dot an idea 
or to express a thought, resting his thumb on his middle finger. Bear 
in mind that he did not gesticulate much and yet it w true that every 
organ of his body was in motion and acted with ease, elegance, and 
grace, so it all looked to me. 

As Mr. Lincoln proceeded further along with his oration, if time. 


place, subject, and occasion admitted of it, he gently and gradually 
warmed up; his shrill, squeaking, piping voice became harmonious, 
melodious, musical, if you please, with face somewhat aglow ; his form 
dilated, swelled out, and he rose up a splendid form, erect, straight, 
and dignified ; he stood square on his feet with both legs up and down, 
toe even with toe that is, he did not put one foot before another ; he 
kept his feet parallel and close to and not far from each other. When 
Mr. Lincoln rose up to speak, he rose slowly, steadily, firmly ; he never 
moved much about on the stand or platform when speaking, trusting 
no desk, table, railing; he ran his eyes slowly over the crowd, giving 
them time to be at ease and to completely recover himself, as I suppose. 
He frequently took hold with his left hand, his left thumb erect, of 
the left lapel of his coat, keeping his right hand free to gesture in 
order to drive home and to clinch an idea. In his greatest inspiration 
he held both of his hands out above his head at an angle of about fifty 
degrees, hands open or clenched according to his feelings and his ideas. 
If he was moved in some indignant and half -mad moment against slav- 
ery or wrong in any direction and seemed to want to tear it down, 
trample it beneath his feet, and to eternally crush it, thus he would ex- 
tend his arms out, at about the above degree, angle, with clenched big, 
bony, strong hands on them. 

If he was defending the right, if he was defending liberty, eulogizing 
the Declaration of Independence, then he extended out his arms, palms 
of his hands upward somewhat at about the above degree, angle, as if 
appealing to some superior power for assistance and support ; or that 
he might embrace the spirit of that which he so dearly loved. It was at 
such moments that he seemed inspired, fresh from the hands of his 
Creator. Lincoln's gray eyes would flash fire when speaking against 
slavery or spoke volumes of hope and love when speaking of liberty, 
justice, and the progress of mankind. Such was this great man to me, 
and I think, I know, such he was to thousands, if not to millions of oth- 
ers. I speak from long knowledge, observation, experience, but with my 
poor reason impartially. You know my criticisms of Lincoln as pub- 
lished in Carpenter, and now take this letter and that criticism, and you 
have my exact ideas of Lincoln in the fields touched upon. 

What is here written is written after thought and after investigation 
among close observing friends, my own knowledge, observation, and 
experience included, and if these hasty words will give you any idea 


of Lincoln's methods, ways, manners, etc., etc., of speaking, etc., etc., 
I shall be amply paid. 

I have this morning just returned from our Menard circuit court, 
where I was attending to my professional duties. It is hot and I am 

Your friend, 


P.S. In Carpenter's book and in my lecture I said that Lincoln had 
no dignity "so called" I used that word. I did so meaning that Lincoln 
had no pride, haughtiness, self-conceit, poorness of carriage. Lincoln 
was a man of great dignity and yet democratic, easy of approach. He 
would up to a certain point allow any approach, but go beyond that, 
and his dignity soon protected itself, and wilted the man who dared 
go beyond the proprieties of the occasion. 


I distinctly remember what is said herein though I conversed with 
others to be sure. 

Springfield, III., July $7, 1887. 
Mr. Bartlett. 
My dear Sir: 

I promised to answer your letter of the 15th intt. and will try and do 
so now. It is a hard and a difficult matter for two men living at a dis- 
tance from each other, by running letters, to understand one another, 
especially so if they follow different pursuits and use local words, words 
of art, law, science. When I said that Lincoln was not of a good pro- 
portion, I compared him with others, the general man. When you said 
that he was a man of good proportions, you looked at him alone and 
compared his parts, organs, one with another Lincoln's legs with 
Lincoln's arms, etc. Now you see where we differed. We are both cor- 
rect. Lincoln was a man of good proportions when we look at him 
alone and not by comparison with the general man, the great mass of 
men. Lincoln was out of proportion when compared with the mass of 
men. The world is full of fuss and fight simply because men do not 
understand one another. You are correct when you say that Lincoln 
was mobUe when looked at alone, one of his parts compared with an- 
other of his parts. This I confess. You will find the plains, 


and outlines of Lincoln's head and face hard to catch ; they are so sub- 
tle. In this you are clearly correct. You will have to use many photos 
side views, half-side views, and front views to catch the man and the 
spirit of him. I said that your statue in clay is good ; and I say so now. 
I have it in my hands while writing this. Lincoln had the grace of pose 
and action. In my poor lecture in Carpenter, a mere sketch of two or 
three lectures, I said that he walked so that he seemed to pocket time, 
walked easily, and to that extent walked gracefully. This is what I 
meant and so you will perceive that we do not much disagree. I try to 
understand men's positions, natures, surroundings, etc., etc., and I 
think I understand you. Again you are correct when you say that the 
photographers ignorant, unscientific men, men of no taste, no judg- 
ment wishing to make a show of art, ruin the photos which they do 
take by pencil, paint, coloring, etc. I would give a good many dollars 
for a number one photo of Lincoln, but there is none, as it appears to 
me. By the way, I have just received a letter from Mr. Whitney, an at- 
torney and a friend of mine in Chicago, stating that Hesler has found a 
new picture, a first-class photo of Lincoln, hidden or laid accidentally 
away for twenty-seven years. Mr, Whitney says that this found photo 
is the very best photo ever taken of Lincoln he knew Lincoln well 
he says he will get and send me one in a few days and I'll loan it to you, 
will give you my opinion of it. In your last letter to me you state that 
it is possible that you will come to Illinois and see the great West, your 
friend included. I would be glad to see you and happy if I can give you 
an idea of L. After the first of August I shall be in Greencastle, In- 
diana, where a friend will assist me in writing the Life of L. The book 
will not detail the general history of L. but will deal with him as an 
individual, as a neighbor, domestically, as lawyer, as politician, states- 
man, etc. A mere thread of his general history will be kept up and no 
more. In one of my letters to you I said of us Western people, espe- 
cially of the old settlers, say from 1818 to 184*5, that they had no cul- 
ture, and in reply to which you state that that expression in your sec- 
tion means a college education, etc., and not the culture that comes of 
observation, experience, and reason. The old settlers from 1818 to '4*5 
were men of culture so were the women, God bless *em. If culture in- 
cludes sharp observation, quick and broad experience, and a manly 
reason of or about men, commerce, laws, institutions, human nature, 
and the world and its affairs generally, excluding college education, I 


have never seen such a people. I have been in your State and know many 
of your men personally and all the great ones of reputation, but for 
good horse sense our people, the old settlers, were your equals, if not 
your superiors as a mass. You ask me if I know Walt Whitman. I do 
by reputation, have read his Leaves of Grass, etc. He is a poet truly 
and indeed. I know Whittier and other of your poets by reputations. I 
like the heart and sympathy of Whittier and the bold originality of 
Whitman. I knew Phillips, Parker, Garrison, and other of your great 
men personally. One more word, you speak of Lamon's Life of Lincoln. 
May I say to you that, take it as a whole, it is one of the truest Lives 
ever written of a man ? I do not agree to all it says. 

Your friend, 


Greencastle, Indiana, August 4, 1887. 
Friend Bartlett : 

... I duly received the photo taken from an oil painting as large 
as life made by Artist Hunt. I thank you for it and its history. . . . 
I landed here on Monday night last and I am hard at work on my 
inner, subjective Life of Lincoln, his nature, characteristics, etc., etc. 
It is extremely hot and dry here everything is burning up, and much 
suffering this winter is predicted here on that account. As soon as I 
get time and the weather cools, I will make notes of the photos which 
you sent me and send them to you. . . . 

Your friend, 


Greencastle, Indiana, August 7, 1887. 
Mr. Bartlett. 
My dear Friend : 

Your letter, dated the 30th ult. y is just received and I thank you for 
it. I am glad that you and I now agree about Lincoln's physical form, 
and now for the relationship between his physical and mental make-up. 
Keep in view Mr. L.*s form, including shape, etc. (He was a great big, 
angular, strong man, limbs large and bony ; he was tall and of a pe- 
culiar type. I said to you once that Mr. Lincoln had not arrived at 



maturity in 1865, and I say so now. Mr. Lincoln was of a lower slow 
mechanical power, inside of him ; his blood ran slowly, had low or slow 
circulation and consequently a slow build-up. As he had a slow build- 
up, he had a slow development : he grew up like the forest oak, tough, 
solid, knotty, gnarly, standing out with power against the storm, 
nearly defying the lightning. Hence I conclude that he had not ar- 
rived at his highest point in 1865. You see the value of getting some 
leading fact, great fact, of the physical man. No other man on the 
continent could have stood what Lincoln did in Washington ; he had a 
frame of iron. Now for the mind. As Mr. Lincoln had a slow circulation 
and a slow build-up, so his mind acted slowly and his mind was tough, 
solid, knotty, gnarly, more or less like his body ; he was angular in body 
and angular in thought, in idea and speech; he was a tall and big- 
boned man and his speech was tall, strong, and big-boned and enduring. 
The convolutions of his brain were long ; they did not snap off quickly 
like a short thick man's brain ; they had to have their time, but when 
those convolutions opened and threw off an idea it was an idea, tough, 
solid, gnarly, big, angular. Tallness, height, generally indicates power 
in the man. Mr. Lincoln was not what is called muscular, but was 
sinewy, wiry. The enduring power of Mr. Lincoln's brain, thought, was 
wonderful : he could sit and think without rest or food longer than 
any man I ever saw. Please see Lincoln's strong, terse, knotty, gnarly, 
and compact words, driven together as by a sledge hammer ; his sen- 
tences, his thoughts as uttered are they not grand types of informal 
expression? What say you? It is the force of the inner build-up power, 
mechanical or spiritual, just as you please, which makes the physical 
and intellectual man. I have given you the correspondencies in my own 
rude rough way. The key of the know I have given you, that's certain, 
and by running throughout, with the assistance of that key, you can 
see Lincoln as I saw and knew him.) 

I am very busy here writing my memoirs of Lincoln and have no time 
to run things out for you. You are enough for that -my superior, I 

I wffl keep my friends always, if I can. I am glad that you wish to 
know Lincoln and I'll assist you to know the man, if I can, but I must 
have a little time. Ill more fully hereafter answer your letter of July 
30. Write to me as often as you please and I'll answer as well and as 
quickly as I can. Possibly I can help you some. I am a weak brother 


but will assist others with that weakness to the best of my heart and 

Your friend, 


GreencastU, Ind. 9 August 9> 1887. 
[To Bartlett.] 

Your last letter and photo are this minute handed to me much 
obliged. Enclosed is a poor lecture of mine just found among the rub- 
bish which I delivered in the city of Springfield in *66. The object of 
the lecture was to show Lincoln's environments physical, mental, 
moral those things that influenced his after life, it may be. You will 
probably be pleased with my description of the Piorieers of Illinois. I 
came from Kentucky a boy, in '21, and know by observation and ex- 
perience the men and things written about. The lecture, to me now, is 
wordy and somewhat strained, and yet it is true to the letter. I have 
seen all the persons and thousands of others, pioneers, mentioned in 
this except one or two men think one only as now remembered. You 
once asked me this substantially : "Did you ever see a man of Lincoln's 
type?*' The lecture will answer : **Yes, it may be a thousand/* I wanted 
to get out Lincoln's love story and his insanity, etc., badly, before I 
fizzled out. No one else knew it as I did and no one who knew part of it 
could write. Hence the lecture, good or bad. Towards the conclusion 
you will see that I maintain that creative activity is the law of the 
mind. You have an idea of Lincoln. You through mental creative ac- 
tivity create a sketch in clay, the counterpart of the idea. We receive 
a sensation and we through the laws of the mind create a concept and 
out of that a complete, well-cut idea. What the law of the brain may be 
is another and distinct question. Read the pioneering part especially. 
Excuse me am hurried and have no time to correct or rewrite. Some 
day I may sit down and write you a good letter, that is, if I can. After 
reading the pioneering part write to me, telling me how the people, 
the description, strikes you. 

Your friend, 
W. H. 


Greencastle, Indiana, August 11, 1887. 
Mr. Brisbin. 
My dear Friend : 

. . I am here finishing writing the life a peculiar one of Lin- 
coln, and those who love "God's naked truth" may like it. Possibly so, 

You write to me a very kind letter indeed and how different is 
your letter from those that I generally receive from ministers of the 
Gospel. I am in excellent health, have no vices, and take care of myself. 
Yes, I have one vice, I smoke. Speaking about my book, let me say that 
it is thought that it can be got ready by January '88 hope so ; it wiP 
search Lincoln's life in some particulars thoroughly. . . . 

Your friend, 


Greencastle, Indiana, August 1%,, 1887. 
Friend Whitney: 

Some time since you wrote me a letter in which you gave me a theory 
or a fact, if you please, about the cause of Mr. Lincoln's sadness, mel- 
ancholy, etc. You said that those states of Lincoln's being were ante- 
natal. You further said, in substance, that Lincoln's mother had fears, 
thumps, kicks, strokes, knockdowns, etc., etc. I do not use your words, 
but your ideas. Have you any facts on which to rely for your belief? 
If you have, please tell me all about them, when, where, and by whom 
done, etc., etc. Please answer me soon. 

Your friend, 


Greencastle, Indiana, August 16, 1887. 
[To Bartlett.] 
My Friend: 

Your letter of the 10th m$t. was duly received and I shall proceed 
at once to answer it. I did not intend to say that Lincoln's organization 
was a low animal organization. What I meant to say was that it was 
a slow-working machine blood ran slowly, and the like. Let me tell 
you some facts, in addition to the above. Lincoln's flesh was coarse, 
pimply, dry, hard, harsh, color of his flesh saffron-brown, no blood 


seemingly in it, flesh wrinkled. Mr. Lincoln had an evacuation, a 
passage, about once a week, ate blue mass. Were you to read his early 
speeches thoroughly and well, you could see his, then, coarse nature, 
his materialism, etc. He grandly rose up more spiritualistic, and this 
is one of the reasons why I say that Lincoln was not fully developed, 
in mind, at least. He may have just entered the field of his power, 
intellectual power, but he had not got to the center of it. If I were 
you, I would consult some of the best of Boston's physicians on the 
very question of low organization. I have a kind of imperfect idea on 
this point. If your physicians give you an opinion, please write to me. 
Lincoln was superstitious, believed more or less in dreams, consulted 
Negro oracles, had apparitions and tried to solve them ; he said to me 
once this : "Billy, I fear that I shall meet with some terrible end." You 
may show my letters on this point to your best physicians, physiolo- 
gists, histologists, anatomists, etc., but they my letters are other- 
wise private. Please get your learned men to assist us. The idea is 
worthy of a search and an opinion from science. I have a shadow of 
an opinion. The precise inquiry would be this: "Was Lincoln's phys- 
ical organization, as compared with other men, of a low order , and 
was it of a low order when only Lincoln was looked at by himself and 
not compared with other men?" This is a question of much interest 
to me and will be to the world of science. Lincoln is a kind of an 
enigma. When your Boston man said : "Lincoln died at the right time, 
etc.," he did not know what he was talking about, was sputtering in 
the dark. Lincoln would have led us gloriously, peacefully, to the 
end ; his martyrdom may have increased his fame, through the horror 
of his taking off, but you and I are not talking about the sympathy 
of the world but are looking deeper or higher, just as you please 
to express it. The observations of that man were cruel your Massa- 
chusetts man, I mean. Lincoln rose equal to the emergencies and would 
have risen to them under all circumstances. He would have seen the 
reconstruction measures clearly, clearly. I have a decided opinion on 
this point, but have no time to express it. 

In a late letter to you, the one enclosed with the Ann Rutledge 
lecture, I made a fool of myself, and it was on this I said to you : "How 
do you like my description, etc., of the old settlers, etc.?" I did not 
intend that. I meant to draw out of you only an idea of the people 
aad their classes in and about New Salem, etc. I corrected the language 


on the outside of the letter.* By the way, just now Sunday morning 
Mr. Weik has handed me yours of August 4, directed to me at 
Springfield, Illinois, and forwarded to me here cannot answer it 
now too late. The fact that I am writing the Life of Lincoln is now 
known to quite all persons. Enclosed I send you a slip, etc., which please 
keep till you hear from me. 

Your friend, 


*In re the words organization and organism about synonyms, 
though there is a little scientific difference. Ask the physician the 
exact difference and write to me. H. 

Greencastle, Indiana, August 18, 1887. 
Friend Whitney: 

Will you please give me your opinion, first, as to whether Lincoln 
really loved and trusted Judge Davis? Did Davis have any influence 
on Lincoln, etc., etc. ? Speak -fully. 

Second, what office did Dubois want that Lincoln did not, would 
not, give him? You know that Dubois in a letter to you said that 
Lincoln threw him away, etc., and was ungrateful, etc. Who got that 
office? Speak fully. 

Third, who was most influential among the big men in getting Judge 
Davis appointed one of the judges of Supreme Court? Davis told me 
that Lincoln gave him no assistance in the getting of it, etc. Speak 
fuHy and I'll not blab. Please write to me on the above questions. 

Your friend, 


Do answer my other letter wherein I ask about the antenatal, etc. 
The threats, kicks, knocks, bangs, stops, cuffs, etc. You know what I 
mean. H. 

Greenca&tle, Indiana* August 8 9 1887. 
Mr. BartletL 
My dear Friend: 

Your three letters of the fourteenth, seventeenth, and eighteenth of 
August are before me, and I shall answer them in the order of their 


dates. Now, as [to] the first one. I do not think that New Salem 
scenery and their people had much to do with Lincoln. He had no 
sense of the beautiful in the physical world but had in the moral world. 
The people of New Salem had a good deal to do in forming L.*& life, 
probably not as much as one would suppose. Lincoln in head was above 
them. The Ann Rutledge story, the facts of it, did affect Lincoln's life, 
I know, up to '42 and it is quite likely longer, possibly to his death. 
I fear that the world will damn me for opening things, unknown things, 
but I am determined to open. Great men have great mothers, and if 
this nation wants great men, it must build up great women, and in 
order to do that the nation must open all the avenues of life to her, 
make her equal to man before the law. She must be thrown on her own 
resources and thus in the struggle of life develop herself. You speak 
loudly of my lecture, but I shall have no time to write the Life of 
Lincoln in such a style. I am exceedingly poor, poor indeed, and would 
starve if I tried to write a full Life of Lincoln in such a style, as is in 
the Ann Rutledge lecture. My Life of Lincoln will be a limited one, 
kind of subjective, inner life, with a mere thread of history running 
along. This life, if it ever sees the light, will cause a squirm. 

As to the second letter, I still adhere to my idea that Lincoln had 
not arrived, intellectually at least, to the height of his power, and you 
may answer that, by the tables of facts made by insurance and other 
companies and ways that it is set down, the average life of man, say 
at 4550, but I reply: did not Lincoln grow up to 1865, over the 
average age ; and now will you fix the limit of Lincoln's development, 
my friend? What authorizes you to do it? Come, be fair. Compare his 
Gettysburg speech with his speeches, say, from 184*0 to 1850. I am 
firm in my convictions, because founded on facts : if Lincoln grew up 
from youth to '65 over the average life of man will you say : "Here 
is the limit of Lincoln's greatness"? But how do you know it? You 
have no fact to prove it and so I have the logic of things on my side. 
As to his physical development, I am not quite certain of my idea on 
that particular, am not decided on it, am thinking on it. 

In your third letter you give me a story about Lincoln's ambition, 
the Scott story, the Chamberlain story; and to which I say: in part 
the story is evidently, to me, correct. Lincoln was ambitious, and in 
that he was selfish. Mr. Lincoln's idea was that he ought to be retained 
the second term because he knew all the facts of the great Rebellion, 


and that no man could learn and understand them in two years, and 
that it was best under all the circumstances to keep him there. Lincoln 
doubtless did consider his success in his second term of vastly more 
importance than the advancement of Grant, or all men on the earth. 
No earthly doubt of it, no doubt of it, none. Lincoln, however, did not 
intend to be understood that the Rebellion had better succeed than 
his, L.'s, defeat for the second term. Lincoln would have offered himself 
up as a sacrifice to squelch the Rebellion and free the slaves, for with 
him it was the whole matter ; the Rebellion was a question of human 
liberty, white as well as black ; see his Philadelphia speech. This is my 
opinion, good or bad. Lincoln remains unknown and, oh, what a big 
mysterious man ! In one of your letters you ask me this question in 
substance : "Do you think that Lincoln wished to be known, thoroughly 
known?" and to which I answer emphatically: "No, he was a hidden 
man and wished to keep his own secrets." As I trail the man step by 
step, like a dog trails a fox, I find many new spots, many new holes, 
much to admire and much to regret. It nearly kills me in my old ag* 
to persist in my search. Please pardon allusion to myself. 

Your friend, 

Greencastle> Indiana, August 85, 1887. 
Friend Whitney : 

I have received your two excellent letters facts in them which I 
have dreamed of long since, but didn't know. I thank you for them, 
Davis, at Bloomington, told me, by inference at least, that Lincoln 
didn't give him the judgeship of his own accord, but that someone 
else got it for him, etc. How is this ? In one of your letters, before these 
two, you state that Lamon's Life of Lincoln is full of mistakes, 
especially as to what I did and said at least infer this much. How 
is this? If you know of any mistakes in the book, please note them 
down and write them out for me. Your letters are helping to form 
history. They are very well written too. Please do not fail to accom- 
modate the world and your friend. Probably I shall go home about 
September 5-10 for a while. 

Your friend, 



Greencastle, Indiana, September 9 1887. . 
Mr. Bartlett. 
My dear Sir : 

I duly received your two letters, enclosing opinions of two of your 
very best physicians, etc., and for which I thank you very much. I 
cannot afford to surrender my facts for theories. The pork theory, 
the miasmatic theory, is guesswork, and not formed on fact. The West- 
em people lived on the very best food in the world venison, bear, 
turkey, fish, etc., etc., including some hog. What I said to you I shall 
adhere to : as to mind, development, etc., but as to Lincoln's organiza- 
tion, physical, I still think that he had a fine network of nerve under 
the coarse flesh. You know the crankiness of physicians ; they have to 
seek for life, its sources, its origin, etc., and this makes them insane, 
i.e., cranky theoretical above all classes of men. I have seen them 
examined in court too often not to notice their tending, their trend. 

I am going to Springfield in about five days, where you can address 
me am worn out, must take rest and recover am getting along 
admirably well in my book, as I see it. I shall write to you when I feel 
able to do so and after getting home. 

Your friend, 


No man had better take up this story unless he mastered Lincoln. 
I would say to all : Go slow. 


Springfield, Itt. 9 September H 9 1887. 
Mr. Bartlett: 

I have been under the weather for some two weeks or I would have 
written to you in answer to your last. Nothing new has happened and 
no new views formed about Lincoln physically or intellectually. I 
stick to my opinions expressed to you. I will tell you a secret about 
Lincoln which must be kept private. I tell you the secret because it 
lets light into Lincoln* Mr. Lincoln's mother, Nancy Hanks, was tibe 
illegitimate child of a Virginia planter, and right here it was that 
Lincoln got his mind ; it never came out a Hanks in this world. The 
Hankses are the lowest people in the world, if we may judge of them 



by their history of 1790-1814. It is held by some that Abraham 
Lincoln is the illegitimate child of one Enloe, but I do not think that 
they are borne out by good and sufficient evidence. I simply state these 
facts or supposed facts to you in order that you may understand the 
origin of things and by knowing the origin you may infer much, if 
you will carry it out. Lincoln knew all these facts or supposed facts 
and hence in part his sadness ; his domestic life was a hell, a burning, 
scorching hell in the domestic world and hence an increased sadness 
and gloom. There flitted before this great man an apparition, an 
idea that he was to meet with some terrible end. Now when you look at 
these things and know the peculiarities of his physical organization, 
you will not be surprised at Lincoln's sadness, gloom, and melancholy. 
This terribly reticent, secretive, shutmouth man never talked much 
about his history, plans, designs, purposes, intents ; and when a man 
tells you this or that about what Lincoln said, believe what you must 
and no more. Lincoln had profound policies and never revealed him- 
self to any man or woman, and this his nature caused the devil domesti- 
cally. Lincoln is unknown and possibly always will be. Some time next 
month, nothing happening, I will send you your photos. I will be glad 
to see you in Illinois at any time. 

Your friend, 


Springfield, 111., September %5, 1887. 
Friend Bartlett: 

On the 22d inst* I wrote to you a private and confidential letter in 
which I stated to you that Abraham Lincoln's mother, Nancy Hanks, 
was an illegitimate child of a Virginia planter. I repeat what I said to 
you in that letter ; and there is no doubt of the fact. Mr. Lincoln told 
me the fact, and the record of the woman bears out her son's state- 
ment that she was an illegitimate child of a Virginia planter. Here 
Mrs. Lincoln got her mind and her blood. She was an intellectual 
woman beyond a doubt. Her son told me so, and all other persons 
who knew the woman prove that she was rather a great woman. She 
cared nothing for forms, etiquette, customs, etc., etc., but burst 
through them without a care for consequences ; she was a social crea*- 
tore, very much so, loved the company of men more than women, and 


by her peculiar nature she got up a bad reputation ; and because she 
had a bad reputation it was, it is still, charged that Abraham Lincoln 
is the child of one Enloe. My own opinion, after a searching examina- 
tion, is that Mrs. Lincoln, Nancy Hanks, was not a bad woman, was 
by nature a noble woman, free, easy, and unsuspecting. My own 
opinion after a sweeping and searching examination, investigation, 
is that Abraham Lincoln was the child and heir of Thomas Lincoln 
and Nancy Hanks Lincoln. I admit that all things are not perfectly 
clear to me ; and yet I think that the weight of the testimony is in my 
favor on both of these grounds. Old Thomas Lincoln, Abraham's 
father, was castrated, fixed, cut, but no one can fix the exact time of 
the loss of his manhood. That event being uncertain, lets in the pre- 
sumptions of chastity, virtue, and heirship, and on these hangs the 
weight of testimony alone. This is pretty close rubbing, is it not? I 
will write to you again and close up this subject forever, I hope. Now 
I want to ask you a question and it is this : Shall I tell out the whole 
story and argue things out as I see it? 

Your friend, 

It will take an exhaustive argument* 


Springfield, IU., September SO, 1887. 
Friend Bartlett: 

I wrote to you two letters dated about the 22d and 26th mst. and 
[in] the first of which I tried to explain Mrs. Nancy Hanks Lincoln's 
parentage, etc. In the one of the 26th I tried to explain the paternity 
of Abraham Lincoln. Now I wish to explain the facts somewhat of 
Lincoln's origin, the doubt of it, etc. It is said to me that Thomas 
Lincoln, Abraham's father, was castrated and there is not much doubt 
of it, but the material question is: When was he castrated? Nancy 
Hanks, Abraham's mother, married Thomas Lincoln when she was 
about twenty-two years of age. She had three children by Thomas 
Lincoln at least the three children were born when or after Thomas 
and Nancy were married. If she had been a bad woman, why did she 
have children before marriage? The first child, Sarah, was born 


in eight months less two days after the marriage and lived and married. 
Abraham was born in two years thereafter, after Sarah, and Thomas 
two years thereafter . . . making six years from the marriage. She, 
Nancy, ceased to have children in, say, 1812. (There is no proof of 
the exact time.) She, Nancy, was in the vigor and prime of life when 
she ceased to breed, and why did she cease thus to bear children? 
Because Thomas was castrated. Mrs. Nancy Hanks Lincoln, Abra- 
ham's mother, died in 1816 ; she had no children from 1812 to 1816, 
and why? Because her husband lost his manhood and because she was 
a virtuous woman. Had she bred right along, Thomas being castrated, 
then she would have let a stray bull in the pasture. Thomas Lincoln 
married a Mrs. Johnston. She had three children by her first husband 
Johnston. Her first husband died about 1817 and then [she], too, in 
the vigor and the prime of life, had no more children by Thomas 
Lincoln, because he was cut, fixed, castrated. If the time of Lincoln's 
castration was before marriage, then Abraham is the illegitimate 
child of someone, but, if after Thomas, her youngest son, then Abra- 
ham was got in lawful wedlock. Under this state of facts, do you not 
see the importance of presumptions? The law conclusively presumes 
that all persons born in lawful wedlock shall be presumed to be the law- 
ful child and heir of the husband and the wife unless it should be con- 
clusively proved that the marriage was incapable of procreation by 
nature or accident. No one now living can fix the time when Thomas 
Lincoln was castrated. The presumption of law saves Abraham's 
paternity. This is close shaving on so important a subject. 

In addition to the above there appear to have been two Nancy 
Hankses one the mother of Abraham and the other the mother of 
Dennis Hanks, a bastard, and illegitimate. Now at this late date, when 
men say that they had connection with Abraham's mother, can there 
not be a mistake in the identity of persons? It appears in evidence 
before me that a Mr. Haycraf t wrote, in 1860 or 1861, to Mr. Lincoln 
asking him some question about himself, Abraham. It appears, it is a 
fact, because I have copies of Mr. Lincoln's letters to Haycraf t, that 
Abraham Lincoln replied, in answer to a question about his own mother 
and himself : "In the main you are right about my history. My father 
was Thomas Lincoln and Mrs. Sally Johnston was his second wife. You 
are mistaken about my mother ; her maiden name was Nancy Hanks.** 
This is all that Lincoln said in the Haycraft letter. Intelligent men 


do say that they did know the difference between the two Nancys and 
so the matter stands. It, however, gets back to the question of castra- 
tion. If Thomas Lincoln was castrated before he married Nancy, then 
the fact is or was that Nancy Hanks, Abraham's mother, was a bad 
woman, but no one fixes the exact date of the sad fact. Now you must 
presume that every grown man has the power of procreation and you 
shall presume that all children born in lawful wedlock are legitimate, 
unless you can prove that the pair had no earthly opportunity of 
access, or that the man was by nature or by accident deprived of his 

I promised you, near the beginning of our correspondence, that I 
would reveal to you some things. I have done as I promised and so you 
will have to judge for yourself. I am satisfied that Abraham Lincoln 
was the lawful child of Thomas Lincoln and Nancy Hanks and that 
she was a virtuous woman. I hope that you can read my letters, hastily 
written as you must know. 

Your friend, 


Please keep these three letters till you go hence and then hand them 
down as drafts of legitimacy and virtue. H. 

Springfield, JZZ., October 1887. 
Friend Bartlett : 

Your letter, dated the 30th uLt. y was handed to me a day or so 
since. Yes, Mr. Butler is correct in saying that Mr. Lincoln was East 
in 1849, not '40. On the adjournment of Congress, the 30th, he passed 
through some of the New England States, making some speeches for 
Taylor as I remember It. I do not think that Lincoln was in New Eng- 
land in 1840, have no recollection of it, do recollect the one in 
1849. . . . 

My book will be ready for the press, say in December or January 
next. I am bothered a great deal how to act in the matter. I thank you 
for your suggestions. You are correct in saying that the whole truth 
should be told of most men and yet it would not do for Lincoln. Lincoln 
is still going up, the growing great ideal man. I know a good deal about 
Lincoln more than I dare state in a book. I watched the man closely 
for thirty years, twenty of which were just across the table 10 x 8 


feet. I was his friend, a fast one, an unswerving one, and he knew it. 
I was from '34* to 1865 for Lincoln against the world, saw in him a 
great man, a man of destiny, took notes, etc., etc. Lincoln to the world 
is a profound mystery, an enigma, a sphinx, a riddle, and yet I think 
that I knew the man. He was uncommunicative, silent, reticent, secre- 
tive, having profound policies, and well-laid, deeply studied plans. He 
moved men at pleasure and for his own ends. He was a remorseless 
trimmer with men. They were his tools, and when they were used up, he 
threw them aside as old iron and took up new tools. On principles he 
was as true as steel, and while I say all this, his ends were his country's 
and man's. 

You are correct again when you say that the noblest of women can 
lose their character quickly in a little village or in a new and sparsely 
settled country. Everybody knows everybody, and any man's business 
is the business of the whole community. Such people love to tattle and 
to lie about one another. They have nothing to do but to tattle and to 
lie in small things. In cities no man's business is his neighbor's, and so 
each man and woman attends to his or her business and goes on unno- 
ticed and uncriticized, but woe to the woman in a little village if she 
makes a false step. One more word about Thomas Lincoln, Nancy 
Hanks, and Abraham Enloe. Thomas Lincoln caught Enloe at his 
house under suspicious circumstances, etc. Lincoln and Enloe had a 
fight about it, and Lincoln bit off Enloe's nose. Possibly Thomas Lin- 
coln left Kentucky to get rid of the devil. Nancy Hanks was as far 
above Thomas Lincoln as an angel is above mud. It is said that she 
didn't care anything for Thomas, and now let me conclude this reveal- 
ing letter by saying to you that Nancy Hanks was a great noble 
woman ; a woman of a very fine cast of mind ; was a broad-minded, 
literal, generous-hearted, quickly sympathetic woman ; a woman far 
above her surroundings, meditative, introspective, sad, daring, fear- 
less, and in some cases indiscreet. Lincoln himself told me much of this 
description of his mother. I know it by what her neighbors say of her 
and with which neighbors I have talked. 

Your friend, 


Enloe was a kind of genius, a rogue, a rake, a libertine, a man of 
force and of mind, a brokendown genius. 


Since writing the above I received your kind letter dated the 22d 
. and for which I sincerely thank you. I wish greatly to be under- 
stood by all men. I have often said that Mr. Lincoln was an infidel and 
I say it now. In 1835-36 Mr. Lincoln in the village of New Salem 
wrote a little book on Infidelity. In that little work, burnt up by a 
friend, Mr. Hill, Lincoln denied the miraculous conception of Christ, 
ridiculed the Trinity, and denied that the Bible was the divine special 
revelation of God. Here are facts, well-settled facts. Now what is an 
infidel? As the infidels use the word, it means those who deny that the 
Bible is the divine special revelation of God. If you will turn to Wor- 
cester's dictionary, you will find that that is the meaning of the word. 
Whether this is so or not, the infidel has the right to define himself and 
the terms which he uses. Lincoln was a deist if that word suits, fits, the 
case better. I well know that all this is no evidence of a want of religion 
in Mr. Lincoln. It is rather an evidence that he had his own religion. 
I have said for more than twenty years that Mr. Lincoln was a thor- 
oughly religious man, a man of exalted notions of right, justice, duty, 
etc., etc. Lincoln's religion was of the grandest and noblest type, kind. 
But when Mr. Bowditch says that Mr. Lincoln was not an infidel, I am 
at a loss to know what an infidel is. Lincoln was a strong believer in an 
overruling Providence, no man more so. He had a grand belief here. 
Am I understood, friend? Rest assured, Mr. Bartlett, that no theories 
go in my book ; fact, science, if I can catch it, only will be mentioned in 
the Life. Facts, facts, facts, shall be my guide. The Eastern people, 
bless 5 em too, must give us poor devils of the great West some little 
credit for common sense and the practical* We pride ourselves on the 
useful and the practical. We are a people who have not a great pride 
in mental speculation nor in theories. Write us down "practicals." 

Your friend, 


I judge that Mr, B. uses the word infidel as synonymous with athe- 
ism, which he is not warranted in doing. Excuse me* H. 

Section Five 

Springfield, III., October $$ 9 1887. 
Friend Weik: 

On last Saturday I received your good long letter, dated the 10th 
inst. 9 giving me much information, "much ideas." I guess that we had 
better bow to the semi-omnipotence of public opinion and bend to the 
inevitable with grace and as much dignity as we can reserve. I do not 
see the use of fighting the unavoidable and losing what we have a chance 
of getting. We can tell all necessary truths, all those truths which are 
necessary to show Lincoln's nature, etc., characteristics, etc. We need 
not, nor must we, lie. Let us be true as far as we do go, but by all 
means let us with grace bow to the inevitable. If the people will not 
take the truth "God's naked truth" let the crime rest on them and 
not on our heads. Talk to me of the progress of this age ! Sugarcoat a 
lie and it goes down sweetly. The mass of men vomit at the truth unless 
it is sweetened with the lie. Falsehood is worshiped and the truth cru- 
cified : it always has been so and always will be so. I say bow down to 
the inevitable. 

I am glad to know that you were in Chicago feeling your way, glad 
that Whitney was kind to you and did all he could for us. I agree with 
him that New York or Boston is the place for our contemplated book. 
I think Swett can do us good with Griggs, etc. When the MSS are done, 
I'll go to Chicago if I can. You and I will have to meet here, say for a 
month, and fix up things, understand one another as to what things 
shall be said and how and when said. When and where shall we meet? 
I have written nothing as yet except a little on Lincoln's civil policy 
and will not till you and I see each other and well understand things. 
To write anything now would be folly. Bow to the inevitable with grace. 

I received the Preface and first chapter have read them are very 
good, but the first chapter will have to be changed, rewritten, modified, 
gutted. "Make things straight and rosy." Success is what we want. 
We want no failures. Do what is necessary to gain that end, short of 
lying, or fraud. Please Lincoln's friends, the publishers, and all man- 
kind, past, present, and the future. Go to any necessary expense in 
getting a typewriter. Now you have my views in full. 

I have tried to see Doctor Jayne, but he has been in Chicago ; saw 


Leonard Swett 

Horace White 
Collection of Frederick II. He serve 

David Davis 

Norman B. Judd 
Collection of Harry MacXeill Bland 


John T. Stuart 

Stephen T. Logan 

Joshua F. Speed James H. Matheny 

Collection of Herbert Wells Fay 



Matheny, but failed to get his photo, promised it; will send J. C. 
Conkling's photo and Ben Edwards's if I can get it. 

I saw Susan Talbott, Lincoln's sweetheart as said; she says that 
Lincoln never courted her to the end of a proposal ; have written two 
letters to Sarah, but I fear that she will not blab. Mrs. Talbott inti- 
mated to me that Sarah would not blab, if L. courted her. It is evident 
that Lincoln and the girls were warm friends, if nothing more. I saw 
Brown ; he says that Melvin has Lincoln's lectures ; saw Mr. Grimsley, 
the son of Mrs. Brown, who says that his mother never had a lecture of 
Lincoln's. I have written to Melvin twice, but he has not answered. I 
am doing all I can to further things along and will to the end, am try- 
ing to please the world and all mankind and womankind too, bless 'em. 
By all means bow to the inevitable and do the best that you can under 
all circumstances. 

Your friend, 


Springfield, Itt., January 7, 1888. 
Friend Weik: 

Mr. Lincoln was a conscientious conservative ; he believed in Law 
and Order. See his speech before the Springfield Lyceum in 1838 ; the 
essence of that speech was obedience to and respect for law. The burn- 
ing of a Negro by a mob in St. Louis was the cause, the text rather, of 
that speech, the occasion of it, etc. Lincoln too was absolutely con- 
servative. See his speech in Congress made June 1848. The talk in part 
of that speech was suggested by some remarks of someone about 
amendments to the Constitution ; he says : "No slight occasion should 
tempt us to touch it (the Constitution). Better not take the first step, 
which may lead to a habit of altering it. Better rather habituate our- 
selves to think of it as unalterable. It can scarcely be made better 
than it is. New provisions would introduce new difficulties and thus 
create and increase appetites for further change.'* Here is a kind of 
blind worship of old things, etc., by Lincoln, and this is in conformity 
as I know of his general nature, (See Barrett's Life of Lincoln, page 
98.) If you wish to talk of L.'s conservatism, here is a splendid chance. 
Make a note and write a page on L.'s staid and absolute conservatism. 

Again, if you write a chapter on the war and the lost cause and Jeff 


Davis, trying to arouse his fellow-conspirators to a further struggle, 
etc., etc., quote Milton's speech put in the mouth of the superior fiend, 
Satan, "he called so loud that all the hollow deep of Hell resounded." 
It, the speech, runs thus : "Princes, potentates, warriors, the flower of 
heaven once jours, etc." This is a fine thing to insert in our book. First 
draw a picture of the rebellion, the conspirators, Confederate army, 
the warring cause, the lost cause, etc., etc., then quote the whole speech, 
etc. Draw it out finely. Put the speech in Jeff Davis's mouth. Here then 
are two good ideas which you can elaborate and make a fine paragraph 
or two. . . . 

While Mr. Lincoln and I were partners, we kept no books as to our 
partnership, though we did, for a while, as to others. Mr. Lincoln did 
most of the circuit court business while I stayed at the office. Some- 
times I went on the circuit and, if I were with Lincoln around in the 
counties, all the money collected by us was instantly divided. If I were 
not on the circuit, was at the office attending to our affairs at home, 
Lincoln would collect monies due us and our fees on the circuit and di- 
vide it, putting his half in his pocketbook and using it as he wanted to ; 
he would wrap my half up in a roll, putting my name on a slip of paper 
and then wrapping it, the slip, around the roll of money and then put- 
ting it in his pocketbook and when he came home he would come to the 
office and hand me my money ; he did this always and at last it so ex- 
cited my curiosity that I asked him this question : "Why, Lincoln, are 
you so particular in this matter ?'* and to which he instantly replied : 
"Well, Billy, I do it for various reasons : first, unless I did as I do I 
might forget that I collected money or had money belonging to you ; 
secondly, I explain to you how and from whom I got it so that you have 
not to dun the men who paid ; thirdly, if I were to die you would have 
no evidence that I had your money and you could not prove that I had 
it. By marking the money it becomes yours and I have not in law or 
morality a right to use it. I make it a practice never to use any man's 
money without his consent first obtained. So you see why I pursue this 
course and now what do you think of this method with reasons ?" and 
to which I replied : "It is all right, Mr. Lincoln, but so far as I am 
concerned, you need not be so particular. I know it's all right anyway 
with you. n 

Your friend, 



Springfield, III, June 13, 1888. 
Friend Weik: 

When you were here reading over the Lincoln MS my mind was 
exclusively engaged on the thread of the Lincoln story, on facts as- 
serted and not on what was omitted. I was watching the story of L.'s 
life, and I now say that it was, is, admirably told. But there are some 
things omitted that I think should go in. In the chapter on the war I 
once gave you Jeff Davis's idea of this Union. I quoted a book in your 
office, Davis's works. I at the same time gave you Lincoln's idea of this 
Union and secession. I referred to Lincoln's first inaugural, first part 
of it, for his idea and to Davis's works for his idea. The issue in the 
two books is stated sharply, between Lincoln and Davis. See my piece 
and the works referred to. Now I humbly think that this issue should 
be fully stated. Slavery was at the bottom, I know, and yet could any 
State voluntarily go out of the Union and dissolve its relation to all 
the States, the National Union? Was the Union made by the whole 
people of the United States or by the States AS STATES? Was it a Na- 
tional Union perpetual or a partnership between the States subject to 
be dissolved lawfully, as it were a commercial firm? I think that this 
should be stated and explained. Secondly, I regret that my descrip- 
tion of the pioneer was not inserted in the MS. Thirdly, I would sug- 
gest that Lincoln's ideas of filling up the mouth of the Sangamon River 
be explained truly and more fully. In speaking of Mr. Lincoln as law- 
yer I sent you some time since a conversation between Colonel King 
and Lincoln on how to decide a law case when one was brought before 
King, who was a justice of the peace. See MS how Lincoln acted when 
he tried a case, etc. This story is a good one and explains that Lincoln 
struck for what he thought was positive and gained his cases mostly 
that way. By no means call the pioneers around New Salem ruffians, 
because it would be a lie. No better people ever lived than they ; they 
were brave, generous, hospitable, a wild and an uncultured people. 
Radford, whose store was sacked, was a vile slanderer and I suppose he 
slandered the men or women. Radford was a vile, blustering, crazy 
fool. I knew Radford and his wife, and good Lord deliver me from such 
a couple. If we could get at the bottom of the story, I guess that the 
people were more than half right. Possibly the people did not want 
sudh a couple with attendants, etc., in the neighborhood. The sons and 


daughters of these old pioneers are some of the best people in Menard 

If my lectures on Lincoln are to form an addendum, a note at the end 
of the book, why not let them go in as I have written them, you correct- 
ing any and all mistakes of language, etc.? The printed slip pinned 
to the piece and written by me in your city was a part of the two 
lectures and delivered at the same time, including what Holland said 
of Lincoln. 

What is herein said is good-naturedly and suggestively said. I will 
write more as my ideas come up one after another. Possibly we had 
better see one another again before you go East with our book, etc. 

Your friend, 


P.S. Am busy replanting corn, got no good ink, hand trembles, 
etc. H. 

Spring-field, IU. 9 July 10, 1888. 
Friend Weik : 

First Mr. Lincoln would come down to the office about 8 a.m., some- 
times in a good-natured, cheerful mood, speak pleasantly, tell a good 
story, and thus he would continue till twelve o'clock ; about 2 p.m. he 
would return to the office, on the same day, in a sad, terribly gloomy 
state, pick up a pen, sit down by the table, and write a moment or two, 
and then become abstracted and wholly absorbed on some question ; he 
would often put his left elbow on the table in his abstracted moods, 
resting his chin in the palm of his left hand. I have often watched Mr. 
Lincoln in this state while he was lost in the world of his thoughts, 
gazing in the distance. In this condition of things neither he nor I 
would speak. Occasionally I did ask him a question in his moods but he 
would not answer, probably for thirty minutes. In the meantime, I 
would quite forget that I had asked a question. To my surprise, say in 
thirty minutes, he would answer my question freely and accurately. 
He had pushed my question aside for the time being. Mr. Lincoln, in 
his abstractions or in his misery, seemed to me to be a little off, so odd 
was he, and yet I know that for the time being he was in the lone land 
of his greatest thoughts. It has been said of Mr. Lincoln that he was a 
many-sided man and, if he was, he certainly was a many-mo oded man. 
I can see Lincoln now in my mind looking sad and grim, sitting at our 


table, pen in hand, while his chin rested in the palm of his left hand, 
his elbow resting on the table, he gazing in the distance all the while. 
There is a sad picture for you truly, and you can write it out to suit 
yourself. It is a correct and a true picture. 

Secondly, I was deputy clerk of the Supreme Court of the State of 
Illinois and had some peculiar advantages to hear and to see. Mr. 
Lincoln would come down from his home to the Supreme Courtroom 
about seven or eight o'clock in the evening. The lawyers Browning, 
Logan, Bushnell, and other lawyers were studying their cases and 
making abstracts and briefs, etc. Lincoln would come into the room 
in a good humor, in one of his best moods, speak kindly and pleasantly 
to all, and say : "You men sitting here so mum puts me in mind of a 
story." The lawyers would say: "What is the story, Lincoln? Come, 
tell it," and tell it he would, and that story would suggest another, 
and so he would break up all reading, abstract, and brief business ; he 
would keep on till twelve or one o'clock in the night. 

Thirdly, I have seen him break up, as it were, social parties, gather- 
ings, etc., at dances, etc., etc., as I have often told you ; he would anno j 
the women dancers, because the men dancers would stop in the dance 
to hear the story. Bear all these little incidents in your mind ; it is these 
things that please the reader. Just think of a merry dance going on 
with music, women, and wine, and "Old Abe" in the corner of the 
dancing hall with his eight or ten chuins around him telling one of his 
best, jv&t loud enough for the ladies to hear, and you have a picture 
of the reality which I have seen more than once. "Old Abe** would en- 
joy to the ends of his toenails his social cruelty. You could see that 
it did him good all over. Lincoln would have his fun, cost what it 
might. . , . 

Your friend, 


These little things are the charm of the life of the great. 

I have told you some of these things before this, but I want you to be 
sure and remember 'em. 

Spring-field, 7ZL, August IS, 1888. 
Friend Weik: 

Your letters about the contract, etc., are at hand* I sent yon the 
new power of attorney and hope It is broad enough to cover our pur> 


poses. You state, Jesse, your case admirably well, "lawyer like. 55 I 
have no statement to make, deeming it wise to say nothing on what I 
have done for over twenty-five years. It has always been my purpose to 
give you the Lincoln records, letters, evidences, etc., under conditions. 
Jesse, after our book is out and when I hear a statement of your case 
accounts, etc., I will do what is fair, honest, just, between man and 
man. I think I am a reasonable creature and easy to deal with. I think 
you can risk my word on the question of justice, right, and equity. So 
let the thing rest till the book, which we are writing, is out and we 
know the facts throughout and thoroughly. I admit that you have been 
kind and clever to me, and this I willingly and gladly confess to you. 
You have done much work and spent much money in and about our 
endeavor, book. I hope that our book will compensate both of us when 
out and some or all sold. I regret to hear that you are "sorter blue," 
but glad to hear that you are desperate, i.e., determined, to push 
things to the end. I sincerely regret to hear about so many obstacles 
thrown in our way and which have to be removed. Every enterprise in 
this world has its obstacles and greatness comes to men out of the 
struggle. You will find competition and opposition to all worthy en- 
deavors, but to beat down competition and crush opposition is the 
province [?] of a persistent and determined man. You have my best 
wishes for your success, entire and complete success. I shall continue to 
send you well-authenticated Lincoln facts when I hear of them. I am 
making inquiries every day almost for new facts about Lincoln, and 
when good and true I'll send to you. How do you like Sarah's letter? 
That letter opens a field for speculation ; therefore will you please look 
up Speed's letter to Lincoln, or Lincoln's to Speed, in which Speed or 
Lincoln use the word Sarah? Speed told me to erase the word Sarah, 
if he had not, in Speed's communications to me and when found please 
give me the exact date of that letter. Did not Speed say to Lincoln 
something like this : "Have you seen Sarah?"? When you get the date 
of the above, will you please give me the exact time when Sarah says 
that Lincoln courted her? I kept no copies of either of the letters. I 
think Sarah said that the time of which she speaks was in 1840-41. 
Please look, in the third place, in one of the early numbers of the 
Century and find a letter from Lincoln to Stuart in which he uses the 
words, "that fatal night." I think it was on the first day of January 
1841, the night when he was to have married Mary Todd but got crazy 


and didn't marry her. Give me the exact date. It is quite likely that Lin- 
coln was courting both women at once or it may be that Sarah refused 
Lincoln and that he jumped into hell in mere desperation, etc. I want 
the exact time when Lincoln says that he was to have married Mary 
Todd and had so much gloom, sadness, sorrow, etc., etc. Now, as part 
of the story, steps in Mrs. Francis and her conspiracy in *42. You and 
I can unriddle the facts, the story, and make a good chapter. I say, 
how do you like the Sarah letter? 

In one of your letters you state to me that our MS is in New York, 
and in your recent letters you state that you have 'em and are rewrit- 
ing, etc. Has the MS been returned with objections? If so, what are the 
objections? Please keep me well informed about our business and I'll 
pray for you. If you can't succeed in our enterprise in New York, can 
you not go to "Bosting" or other city? 

Have you accepted any of my suggestions? Please write to me a 
good long letter stating what is what all about things in general. 

I am just done digging "taters" and am going to the city on busi- 


Your friend, 


I saw Judge Matheny and J. B. Hines, prosecuting attorney who 
lived in the neighborhood of Miss Wilson, now Mrs. Drennan, and both 
say that the story about Lincoln courting Miss Wilson is false in every 

Springfield, Itt., September 87, 1888. 
Friend Weik: 

I received your two letters and lost one on the streets, the one con- 
taining the envelopes. I read the first and second pages of our book 
and they read well, I hope today on going to the city to find my letter 
which I somehow lost in my hurry to get home. 

Enclosed you will find Governor Palmer's photo, marked No. 1 on 
the back of the card. . . . Judge B. S. Edwards is marked No. 2. . . . 
Butterfield was never a member of the Sangamon bar and never ap- 
peared in it. Probably C. C. Brown's, John E. Rosette's, E. B. Hem- 
don's, et tft, ought to go in the group. Some may feel offended in pass- 


ing them over unnoticed. We want friends and not enemies. What say 

The Democrats here are mad at Nicolay and Hay for saying that 
Douglas was a "shyster." Douglas at the bar was a broad liberal- 
minded gentleman, a good lawyer, courteous, was not very well read 
in the law but his great good common sense carried him along with the 
best of the bar. In law Douglas was generous, courteous, fair, and as 
I remember it, he never stooped to gain his case. Douglas was anything 
but a "shyster." In politics Douglas did stoop a little to conquer 
much, but in law never. I did not worship Douglas but am willing to 
do him justice ; he was naturally a great man, a good lawyer, a gentle- 
man, and a patriot. I have known Douglas since 1837. We want 
friends, and let us speak ill of no one. 


Your friend, 


P.S. When I get proof sheets, shall I send back to you or shall I 
make notes stating page and line to be corrected ? I prefer this latter 
course. H. 

Springfield, III., October 10, 1888. 
Friend Weik : 

. . . Today for the first time I carefully read pages 1, 2, 3 of our 
book, the pages you sent me. I make such suggestions as strike me: 
first, erase the word last as noted on the paper or insert after the word 
scarce? through his mother, and this will bring out what Lincoln said; 
he claimed that he got his mind from his mother as his own declaration 
in the slip shows. Lincoln said that his mother was by nature a great 
woman, great-hearted and great-headed ; will write you about her, etc., 
etc., soon according to my impressions ; give it now on third and fourth 
pages. Secondly, I have used the word then for it, because we are 
speaking of ancestry and origin ; thirdly, I have used the word he in 
place of they. Please send the slip back to me. This is the only proof 
sheet that I have seen. . . . Do you want my photo taken in 1871, to 
go among the members of the Sangamon bar? Put Lincoln himself in 
that group too. 

In Arnold's Life of Lincoln he makes Abraham's mother a tanner of 


coon skins, etc. This is all nonsense. Write to Chapman and get Dennis 
Hanks's recollection of the facts asserted. Women in this section 
never did any coon skin tanning, nor tanning of any kind. Arnold 
makes Lincoln's table groan with wild game, such as venison, turkey, 
quail, duck, fish, squirrel, etc., etc. This is all nonsense. Mrs. Lincoln 
was too avaricious for such things. She kept, as a general thing, a 
stingy table. Sometimes she would give parties and then it was that she 
flamed out in some splendor. Mrs. Lincoln kept or set a poor table. 
Lincoln never invited his friends to his general tables. Mrs. Lincoln 
would give him hell if L. did and pay it down "right off" with tongue 
and broomstick. 

Jesse, in one of my letters to you I stated that we wanted friends, 
defenders, etc., and to that end let us speak illy of no one. I said some 
hard things of Logan ; wipe 'em out. So I said that Stuart pursued us, 
L. and myself ; wipe that out too. This is the prudent course, is it not ? 

While I am about it, let me state to you the impressions which Mr. 
Lincoln's conversations made on me about his mother. I took no note 
at the time of what he said, could not. I include the impressions left on 
me by conversations with David Turnham, old man Wood, Dennis 
Hanks, the Grigsbys, and some Kentuckians. Turnham and Mr. Wood 
were well acquainted with Mrs. Lincoln. In the first place, Mr. Lincoln 
told me that his mother was a kind of genius, a great-hearted and a 
big-headed woman. He further stated to me that she was over-souled 
with goodness, tenderness, and sympathy. Mr. Wood verifies part of 
this, so does Turnham. Dennis Hanks and others say that she was a 
careless woman, careless of dress, show, or glitter. Dennis Hanks says 
that Abraham and Sarah did not know what cleanliness, civilization, 
etc., were till Thomas Lincoln married Mrs. Johnston. Abraham's 
mother despised forms, ceremonies, etiquette, loved the company of 
men more than women, because more like herself m mind. Mrs. Lincoln 
was a rather sad woman, especially at times in Indiana where she was 
high above her surroundings, including all the Hankses, and I may say 
the same thing in Kentucky ; and when she broke out, it was like the 
sunshine in a cloudy and stormy day, giving warmth and cheer to the 
world. In many things Mr. Lincoln and his mother were alike, espe- 
cially in self-reliance, hate of forms, love of substance, in sadness, 
carelessness of dress, looks, sensitiveness, and secretiveness. You now 
have my ideas of Mrs. Lincoln. I told you in one of our private con- 


versations that one cause of Mrs. Lincoln's bad reputation among 
women was because of her bold steps with men. Mrs. Lincoln was a 
good thinker rather than a good house- and child-cleaner ; she was a 
rather gloomy woman in Indiana, so says Mr. Wood. Mr. Wood 
takes his idea of gloom from the fact of a meditative mind, a mind 
with an idea. Mrs. Lincoln pushed aside all forms, ceremonies, and 
what fashion builds, was sensitive and secretive ; she acted from within 
and not from the without. You know that Mrs. Lincoln is charged with 
unchastity and the like. Do not these charges come from the fact, 
among the women, her neighbors, that she was a bold, reckless, cou- 
rageous, daring, self-reflecting, and self-reliant woman, one with an 
idea of her own ? I read a description of Mrs. Lincoln in some Kentucky 
paper some years since which in part confirms my impression long 
since made. One or two words the author in the Kentucky paper 
changed after the first issue. Mrs. Lincoln was Mrs. Lincoln and no 
one else. 

Your friend, 


Springfield, EL, November 10, 1888. 
Friend Weik: 

Some proof sheets received and read read well. Corrections . . . 
Erase the word "ruffians." You promised me at the Revere to do it. You 
would set loose ten thousand hornets on my head. Put in the words wild 
men, untamed men, or some such words. The leading characteristics of 
these men were integrity, generosity, hospitality, and courage ; had 
great good horse sense, and some were quite cultured for time and 
place. You will never see the like of these men. The children, grand, and 
great-grandchildren of these people are some of the best people in 
Menard and it would not do to say Ruffians. . . . There are three 
claimants for the poetry: Doctor Merryman, old man Handcock 
our local Scotch or English poet and Oliphant, but the better idea is 
that Handcock was the man. Oliphant was not a man of any value on 
earth, except to drink whisky and run with bad women, as I remem- 
ber it. Matheny, I think, says it was Merryman who wrote the poetry ; 
Lightfoot says Handcock, and that is what I heard on the street at 
the time, but it makes not much difference. 


Be sure that Lincoln comes all the way up to Bogue's Mill. It seems 
to me that he did and that I, at that time, saw Lincoln, but be sure that 
I am right. The records will fix it ; it has now been fifty-six years since 
I saw what now seems to be the truth to me. Try and get me right. If 
L. came up to Bogue's Mill, I saw Lincoln, and if he did not, then I did 
not see him at Bogue's Mill. 

I will see Matheny about Oliphant again and that fine-dressed man. 
Was not O. that man? I see two grammatical errors, which you will 
correct. I'll see to -facts,, doing the very best I can in that field. I am not 
certain about Oliphant and the young well-dressed rake. 

It has been thrown up to me recently that Butler did board Lincoln 
free from 1836 to 1843. 1 have written to Will Butler, asking him to 
see his sister too and get his and his sister's opinion on the facts. I 
think the charge is a lie. Butler was poor from *36 to 1843 and couldn't 
afford it, nor would L. accept of such long continued gratuity. Will 
send you Butler's letter in answer to mine, if he writes me. 

Please send me a certified copy of the contract between us and Bel- 
ford, Clarke & Co., publishers, etc., and oblige greatly. 

Your friend, 


P.S. If you will get a copy of a letter from Lincoln to Hay craft now 
in your possession, you will see that Lincoln called his mother Nancy 
Hanks out and out. This will help you in the first or second chapters 
to correct doubts. 

Springfield, IU. 9 November 10, 1888. 
Mr. Bartlett. 
My dear Sir : 

I owe you about one hundred apologies, but can at this moment give 
you three : first, I am a very poor man and have to work today for to- 
morrow's bread and butter ; secondly, I am a farmer and have to attend 
to its duties ; thirdly, I am hurried with my book, now in the hands of 
the publishers, Messrs. Belford, Clarke & Co. proof sheets corrected 
up to chapter five. These are the reasons why I have not written to you 
before. I might say that I had nothing to write about interesting 
to you. When you come back to Boston, I will write to you and will 
then send you some important notes which I drew up solely for my 
own satisfaction. I hope that they will assist you ; when they come to 


hand, copy and send back to me. Give any person copies of the notes 
with the understanding that they, nor the facts in them, are to be pub- 
lished for years. You may do the same with any or all of my letters. 
Robert Lincoln is living and the publication of them or the facts of 
them would offend "Bob," who religiously hates me for telling naked 
truths about his noble father. "Bob" came from Chicago once raging 
to be somehow satisfied. He had some extra fool advisers in Chicago, 
nice, dainty, finical, kid-gloved asses who loved smooth literature with 
no admixture of truth in it, no robust truth. You know that this is not 
my method of thinking or writing, speaking or acting. My poor book 
will, I guess, suit no one, but that I cannot help. The Life is mostly an 
analysis of Lincoln, an attempt to let people peep into the inner man, a 
thread of his history running through the book at the same time. The 
time is not yet to correctly and accurately estimate and weigh Lincoln. 
We are too close to him and the times in which he lived and out of 
which, with conditions, he wrought his great glory ; he is the ideal man 
of America and probably will be an ideal man of all English-speaking 
people. Everything about Lincoln should be known correctly and you 
will help to preserve important facts in relation to him. You will get 
in the book truths, facts, opinions, where I give only truth, no admix- 
ture of falsehood, if I can avoid it. I have been writing on facts, to get 
them, twenty-five years or more. The book treats of Mr. Lincoln as an 
individual, domestically, socially, as friend, lawyer, statesman, poli- 
tician, his religion and philosophy, his philosophy, etc., etc.^ don't go 
much into war matters ; only a kind of a one-eye glimpse of it. How 
does this ring, how does it suit, my friend? . . , 

Can't tell you anything more about my Life of Lincoln, hope it will 
be out by the middle of January or first of February next. I send my 
highest regards to all, wife and children. 

Your friend, 

Springfield, IZZ., November 88, 1888. 
Friend Jesse : ' 

Your letter of the I5th was duly received and in answer to it let 
me say that the Introduction which we agreed to was written by us 


while I was In Greencastle and is the one which I referred to by me in 
my letters and the one to which you referred was not as it stands agreed 
to. In my great hurry to comply with your wish to hurry up things, 
I neglected to erase the words to which you refer. My neglect probably 
led to the misunderstanding. Charge it to me. 

I went and saw Matheny on Tuesday and he and I had a long con- 
versation about Bogue, Oliphant, et al. The truth is as follows : Bogue 
had goods on the Talisman and to that extent was captain. Oliphant 
was the captain of the boat, etc., hands, etc., measurably. Oliphant 
was the man to whom the grand supper was given. He and the woman 
with him were the persons who acted so badly. Oliphant was no poet 
that M. and I knew of. My idea of Oliphant you have in one of my 
letters. Matheny says emphatically that Doctor Merryman wrote the 
poetry. At the time that the poetry came out, it was understood on the 
streets that Handcock, our local Scotch poet, wrote it. However, it 
makes no difference who wrote it. Unless you have some better evidence, 
follow the above. 

I saw a gentleman in M-*s office, during the above conversation, 
whose name is John M. Pierson, who married Miss Wilson, daughter of 
Judge Wilson of the Supreme Court. Mr. Pierson is a gentleman ; he 
told me that on traveling up the Ohio or somewhere that he met a well- 
dressed gentlemanly Kentuckian who told him that Nancy Hanks was 
kept, as it were, by Enloe. The Kentuckian spoke as if he knew the 
facts somehow. This Mr. Pierson is a Kentuckian, and his father lived 
near Thomas Lincoln, say in the same county in Kentucky. I send this 
to you to go with the rest of things. . . . 

Enclosed with this is a piece which I am desirous to have go in our 
book at some appropriate place which will be found as we go along. 
Correct it and let her slide in. Again I wish that the piece on Lincoln's 
power over men should go in ; he was the King ruler of men by divine 
right. I can better the one which I wrote you in much haste. This con- 
tinual much Tiaste frets me. Can the pieces go in before it is too late? 
Won't bother you any more if I can hold off a hard thing to do. Can 
they go in? Please answer. In the enclosed piece you will see that I do 
not quote the whole of the poetry, namely, "There is a tide, etc.** 
Please quote it all just as in Shakespeare. I couldn't find it hurried 
then and now have been for weeks and am now putting away apples, 


turnips, etc., etc. Will get through soon, I hope, and then I can help 
you more. 

You can, if you wish, strike out those words which you refer to in 
your last and then all things will stand fairly and as evidently intended ; 
am for the city. 

Your friend, 


P.S. I am glad that the election is over, though I am whipped badly. 
The election, the result of it, surprises all here. There is one consola- 
tion, and it is this. Harrison will make a good President, as I verily 
believe. What do you think, Jesse? W. H. H. 

Springfield, 7ZZ., November , 1888. 
Friend Weik : 

Some few days since I sent you a piece on Lincoln's love of law and 
order, etc., which I wish to go in our book. However, if it changes that 
expression, that idea, that language, in the other parts of the book 
and causes repetition, erasures, and trouble, or too many changes and 
alterations, then discard it, using if possible that little speech which I 
made L. make. Law and order, liberty and union, were Lincoln's in- 
spirations during his whole political life a fact, a great -fact. Pos- 
sibly the changes had better be made and insert the piece. That little 
speech can be inserted anywhere when a proper place is found. I will 
send, probably with this, a piece on L.'s power over men which can go 
in my lecture at the end of the book just between the last paragraph 
and the one above it. I do not think that will bother you or the publish- 
ers much. Please correct grammatical errors only. It is a good analysis 
of Lincoln's power over men. If you conclude to insert Lincoln's love of 
law and order above-mentioned, please correct grammatical errors 
only. Touch both pieces lightly. 

I saw Littler on Saturday last ; he says that Lincoln did not make 
nor attempt to make a speech at that moment of time spoken of when 
Ben Edwards said : "I would rather shake hands with the devil than to 
shake hands with Douglas on this question," or as some put it: "I 
would shake hands with the devil on this question." Littler said that 
Lincoln made a speech, a glorious, grand one on the same evening in 
the hall of the House of Representatives eclipsing all others Trum- 


bull's, Lovejoy's, et al. The speeches, except Lincoln's, were made in 
Wright's Grove west of the city about one mile, and near the fair 
grounds. The speeches, etc., were made in the fall of 1858. Littler sajs 
that Lincoln wept like a child at that moment of time, scene, etc. 

I saw Keys, who was my informant about Nicolay and Hay's 
charging Douglas with being a shyster. Keys now says that they used 
substantially that word, not the very word shyster. I will get things all 
right, correct, if I have to interrogate men a hundred times and inves- 
tigate things often and often. I desire greatly to get at the exact truth. 

Jesse, would it not be well to insert in our preface the fact that our 
book was not designed to supersede any other Life of Lincoln, only to 
supplement them? Remember what we said at the beginning of things. 
Again, would it not be right and eminently proper for us to acknowl- 
edge our obligations in the preface to all persons who have given us 
honest opinions and well-established truths in relation to the attri- 
butes, qualities, or characteristics of L. and the facts of his life? 
You can insert these ideas without sending them back to me to adapt, 
etc. Again I want, wish, you to be gratefully and honorably mentioned 
in the preface. I said this once and I say it to you earnestly again. If 
anything of this kind is put in a new and corrected preface, send to me 
to see, etc., etc., if you please. These ideas are, or some of them are, in 
our agreed preface dated September 1, 1887, and a copy of which you 
sent to me ; see original. . . 

If you ever see any notice of our forthcoming book made by Belf ord, 
Clarke & Co., please send to me and I'll send back to you, and if you 
ever see any criticisms or notice of our boot by anyone in the distant 
future, please send to me and I'll return to you. Here in the country 
I see nothing and hear nothing. Please at all times remember the above 
requests, do. 

Dave Littler tells me this additional story. During some of the polit- 
ical canvasses, the people in Logan County, Illinois, just north of this 
county and adjoining it, had determined to have a large meeting, a 
grand rally, and had appointed the day and the hour. When the day 
and hour arrived, the heavens opened with a terrific storm ; it blew in 
hurricanes and rained in torrents. Only about twenty persons ap- 
peared. Lincoln had felt this sting of disappointment and therefore he 
did not wish others to be disappointed. After some reflection he said: 
"Boys, the day is bad, too bad for many people to appear here to hear 



me speak, but as you have dared the storm to hear a speech, you shall 
not be disappointed. Come, let's us go over to Armington's Hall and 
I'll give you a talk, such as I have." The twenty went over to the hall in 
Atlanta, and Littler said to me: "For a calm, cool, profound speech 
I never heard so great, so learned, in the liberty line, so dispassionate a 
speech in my life. I learned," said Littler to me, "more of the ideas, in 
the two hours' speech, of Republicanism then and there than I ever 
knew before. Why, the speeches of other men sounded dull and dead 
to me after that." Lincoln must have done his best on this occasion, 
because Littler felt what he said and did not seem to color his story. 

Excuse your friend, 

I am in much haste for the city loaded with the products of the 
farm. H. 

The place, village, at which the speech was made was Atlanta, 
Logan County, Illinois, H. 

Spring-field, IZZ., December 1, 1888. 
Friend Jesse: 

Your good long letter, dated the 25th ult., was duly received. The 
letter is a good and a satisfying one ; and now (1 ) as to Nancy Hanks. 
We promised in our preface to suppress nothing true and to suggest 
nothing false in the characteristics and history of Lincoln. If we 
strike out her acts and doings it is suppressing nothing true nor 
suggesting anything false as to Lincoln's characteristics and facts 
of his life. We did not start out to write the life of Nancy Hanks, but 
of Lincoln, the man in a special line, namely, his characteristics and 
the facts of his life. We violate no promise to the world if we suppress 
Nancy's unchastity, if a fact. The reason why we wanted Nancy's 
character and acts was to show by contrast how a great man can rise 
out of the ashes. That's all. There is a plenty of contrast material 
without Nancy's illegitimacy. Men would charge me with revealing a 
sacred private matter which Lincoln in his good nature gave to me. 
Lincoln said to me : "Don't tell this while I live," and I have kept my 
word. The world is not ready for the truth, the whole truth yet. I am 
decidedly in favor of striking out all mention of her illegitimacy and 
unchastity if such is the fact. I, so far I am concerned, wish to escape 


severe and angry criticism on this delicate pomt. I want the boot to 
be a success, a complete success, and I am in favor of putting the book 
on the safe side. No one will get mad because we suppress Nancy 
Hanks's illegitimacy or unchastity, if true, but thousands will go 
crazy, wrathy, furious, wild, etc., if we insert such suggestion. Jesse, 
get on the safe side and be prudent. Now you have my candid opin- 
ion, and if you do not agree with me, do what you think best, most 
proper, most wise, and I'll stand square up to you, you keeping to the 
record and to the truth. 

Now (2) about that good little dog story, and as you may not get 
it exactly right, let me restate it. Thomas Lincoln with his family 
started to go from Indiana to Illinois in March 1830. The weather 
was rough and cold. When Lincoln got somewhere near the line that 
divides Indiana from Illinois, after traveling several days, the family 
came to one of those long loggy corduroy bridges laid over a wide 
swamp. The water was over the logs and a thin sheet of ice bridged 
the water. Now and then there were posts along the bridge to direct 
the traveler. The family came to the edge of the swamp. Abraham 
drove the oxen, two yoke, but when he attempted to go into the swamp 
and on the bridge, he could not make the oxen break the ice, without 
apparent cruelty. Abraham coaxed and threatened by turns, but the 
oxen would not go on the ice, and at last Abraham saw that force 
must be applied, so he swung his long ox lash around and around over 
the oxen, high in the air, and brought the lash down, cutting open the 
hide. The oxen at last went on the thin ice, broke their way, etc. When 
about half-way over, Abe heard his poor dog bring a kind of despair- 
ing howl ; he stopped the oxen, pulled off his shoes, rolled up his pants, 
got out of the wagon, jumped into the cold water, the sheets of ice 
hitting his shins. He got to the dog, took him, frightened nearly to 
death, in his long and strong arms, carried him to the wagon, put him 
in it, the dog crouching close to Mrs. Lincoln's feet, scared half out of 
his wits. The oxen were soon told to go on, and on they went through 
the ice. After the family had crossed and got on dry land, Abe found 
difficulty in getting the dog out of the wagon ; at last he had to haul 
him out by force. When the dog was out and on dry land, he cut up 
such antics as no dog ever did before ; he ran round and round Abe 
and laid down at his feet, got up and ran round and round again and 
again ; he seemed, was, grateful to Abe, his benefactor. Lincoln said 



to Dubois after telling him the story: "Well, Jesse, I guess that I 
felt about as glad as the dog." This story I got from Dubois, he get- 
ting it from L. many, many years ago when the two were young men. 
In writing what you do write, if you wish to know my authority, when, 
where, etc., etc., I can tell you quickly. In fact, Jesse, I have in my 
memory a thousand unwritten facts about our good man, Abe, that 
were told me by good and truthful people, but this is not to be won- 
dered at when you think that I have been gathering facts of L.'s life 
for nearly a quarter of a century, in addition to what I learned from 
1834 to 1865 of him by actual contact. 

Being in a hurry when I wrote the first part of this letter, I forgot 
to say to you that you can safely say that, in law, Abraham Lincoln 
was the son and heir of Thomas Lincoln and Nancy Hanks Lincoln 
and be safe in the saying of it. The general reader will not notice the 
sharp point, m law. This may help us ; L. was born in lawful wedlock 
and that is enough for us. Couch the idea somehow in general words. 
I cannot think. 

As to Lincoln's courtship with Ann Rutledge, let me say that L. is 
not to he censured. The facts are that Hill, McNamar, and Lincoln 
courted the girl at one and the same time ; she preferred McNamar 
and L. ceased to pay much attention to her, if any. McNamar after his 
engagement with Ann went to New York and was gone about two 
years. The relatives of the girl convinced her that McN. had deserted 
her and at last, through the Rutledges, Greens, et. al., the girl con- 
sented to receive the visits of Lincoln. Evidently somehow she let L. 
know of her determination to cease expecting McNamar. Lincoln then 
and not before plunged in the second time, and won. The poor girl un- 
fortunately died a short time before L. and her were to be married. I 
see nothing wrong in all this. Lincoln acted the man in this matter as 
he always did in all matters. Publishers of books know too much and 
would gut things of all pith and point if they could. You and I ought 
to know something after studying Lincoln for thirty years or more. 

What shall I say to General McClernand about a new photo? He 
gave me the one I sent you. I guess McC. is poor and cannot well give a 
new one. . . . Hope you will get some [photos] in Indiana near Gen- 
tryviUe, and if you go to New York, my good fellow, don't run off with 
some pretty "gal." . , 

Send on the proofs and 111 correct as to facts alone. You attend to 


grammar and other matters. I will return the proof slips as you re- 
quest. Can any corrections be made in our book after "the advance 
sheets are sent me and when the plates are cast"? 

I saw a gentleman on Tuesday last in Hay's office who said he saw 
an advertisement or notice of our book, but by whom it was issued he 
did not say ; have heard of no circular as yet from the publishers ; hope 
to see one soon, etc. 

One more word about our bar group. You say in your letter that 
to mention, put in our book, too many photos of persons, little and 
unimportant fellows, having no connection with Lincoln in politics and 
at the bar, would, if not in the text, injure the book. However that may 
be, the photos which I send you are not little unimportant fellows, 
having no connection, etc. Many of these men were Lincoln's bosom 
friends, political, personal, etc., dear and near. They practiced at the 
bar with him for years and I think, humbly think, that outside of the 
matter of the book, its composition, etc., the group of the Sangamon 
bar is the most important phase of our book, the most interesting, the 
best thing to study, etc. This group will be looked at and studied for 
generations. If there are too many photos to group, the engravings 
can be put on consecutive pages or any way to suit, etc. You are a 
little mistaken when you say that when Lincoln was admitted to the 
bar of the circuit and Supreme Court there were Logan, Shields, et oL 
First come Stuart, Logan, Baker, etc., and Matheny et di. come in 
about '43. Lincoln was admitted, I think, in ? 37. Stuart, Logan, Baker, 
were before Lincoln. All of these men caine along successfully, some 
before and some after Lincoln* All that I have just mentioned came 
here say from 1832 to *46. However, I suppose this makes no dif- 
ference in your general idea. 

As to your proposition made to me at the Revere House in this city 
at present I shall neither accept nor reject. I do not like to make a 
contract about things when I am in the dark as to facts about it. I am 
determined when I know all the facts of the case to do you justice in 
the end, if our written contract does not do so, under all circum- 
stances. You may infer from this that your proposition is rejected 
and am now obliged to you for the past. 

Give my best respects to father, brother, and sister if you please. 

Your friend, 



P.S. Please file all my letters good, bad, and indifferent. They will 
be useful sometime. H. 


Springfield, 111., December $ 9 1888. 
Friend Jesse : 

I guess that you will dislike this letter about as heartily as you 
dislike anything. Nevertheless, I shall send it and ask it to be filed away. 
I suppose that you will agree with me that Lincoln had a low and 
feeble circulation. It follows physiologically, does it not, that he had a 
slow, but a somewhat healthful irritability ; that is, his whole organism 
moved slowly to the influences of all kinds of stimuli he thought 
slowly and acted slowly and, as I said in one of my lectures on Mr. 
Lincoln in '66, his body and mind seemed as if they needed oiling? A 
man thus conditioned has his spells of sadness gloom and melancholy 
if not his spells of despair. This state of Mr. Lincoln made him, as it 
were, at periods, unconscious of his surroundings, and to arouse that 
somewhat dormant consciousness he needed a stimulant, and that was 
found in a story, and tell it he would. The human mind is active and 
cheerful or sad and gloomy according to the quantity and quality of 
the blood sent from the heart through the brain. This story telling, this 
stimulant, sending more blood to the brain, aroused the whole man to 
an active consciousness, sense of his surroundings. Grave men in grave 
times, sometimes his ministers, would approach him in order to state 
the urgency of some matter that needed his immediate attention, Mr. 
Lincoln would look up to his minister half sleepily, dreamily, saying : 
"Mr. Secretary, take a chair." He would, in a moment or two, after 
the secretary had stated his errand, tell some story, much to the dis- 
gust of his minister, who would censuringly say : "Mr. President, this 
is no time for story telling ; the times are grave and full of war, and the 
country is fast drifting to ruin." Mr. Lincoln would good-naturedly 
reply : "Come, Mr. Secretary, sit down, sit down, I have a perfect and 
a profound respect for you and, were it not for these stories, I should 
die, they are vents through which my sadness, my gloom and melan- 
choly, escape." Mr. Lincoln would thus arouse his half-dormant con- 
sciousness into activity, into full play and power ; and after he had been 


thus aroused he would listen to what the secretary or minister eagerly 
told him, like a philosopher, and in a short moment he would make his 
answer, his reply, so wisely and so earnestly as to convince the man 
that that point or that subject had been thoroughly and maturely 
considered before, long, long before, this moment of meeting. This 
state of Mr. Lincoln, particularly so if it was accompanied by mental 
and nervous exhaustion, produced by long and intense study, caused 
him to have delusions saw apparitions, specters, and the like. This 
man was, as a general rule, a sad a gloomy and melancholy man, 
but at exceptional times a momentarily happy one, and it was a curi- 
ous thing to see him sink quickly back into his usual state of sadness 
and gloom and become, as it were, oblivious of his surroundings, man 
and the world. Let no man blame Mr. Lincoln for being sad or see- 
ing apparitions ; his sadness and his gloom came naturally out of his 
organism and his apparitions from the same source somewhat and 
from nervous and mental exhaustion. Let no man rudely censure 
Mr. Lincoln for his story telling, because the telling of them aroused 
him and made him happy for a time. Had this great man been of an 
ardent temperament, with swift and strong volumes of rich blood 
pouring through his brain, had he been impulsive quick to think and 
quick to act rashly running before the complete development of the 
individual ideas into national ideas and of facts, marching with ban- 
ners hastily before his people, blindly grasping at the trend and drift 
of things, hungry and longing for a quick end of the national quarrel, 
groping his way before ideas and facts, this great nation would have 
been two governments this day. This feeble and low circulation, this 
slow irritability which slowly responded to stimuli, this organism 
with herculean strength not having much wear and tear about it, by 
nature conserving its forces this great man with a great heart and 
greater head, with a sublime patience and an endless endurance, saved 
the nation from division and consequent ruin. Was not Mr. Lincoln 
the right man, in the right time, and in the right place? Surely, surely 
there is a Providence in the affairs of men, has been, now is, and for- 
ever will be, as we poor mortals see it. 

Your friend, 


P.S. I know that this does not suit you ; you dislike such stuff ter- 
ribly, and yet some persons may like it. You dislike all speculation, 


including my piece on L.'s power over men and the piece on L.'s love of 
law and order. H. 

Publish if you can and think worthy. H. 

Springfield, ZZZ., Janiiary k 1889. 
Friend Weik: 

Mr. Lincoln and I had various and diverse conversations in rela- 
tion to the spirit of the times and ahout slavery from '53 to *61. I 
was an out-and-out abolitionist, radically so. Mr. Lincoln was a very 
conservative man and a cautious one; he thought slowly and moved 
slowly in the matter of his opposition to slavery. I declared often and 
often in his presence and to Mm that the Fugitive Slave Law was a 
thing engendered in hell. I said to Mr. Lincoln repeatedly from '53 
to *61 that this continent was not broad enough nor long enough to 
contain the principles of Liberty and the despotism of Slavery for 
any great length of time together, and that one or the other must go 
to the wall and die there, not only cease to be a factor of power in the 
political world, but that one or the other, Liberty or Slavery, must 
die. I said to Mr. Lincoln often and often that ill-gotten gain did 
no man any good and that this applied to nations as well as in- 
dividuals, that God would [right] wrong and establish justice. 
"This," said Mr. Lincoln, "is my idea, my prediction, and note it." 

Little did I know how great our people are as a mass of men ; how 
little did I know of the vast number of great men in the country who 
were wise leaders and brave ones in the terrible war ; and how much less 
did I know that the great big man was touching my shoulder at the 

This figure Mr. Lincoln actually used just as I have told it to you. 
I remember the conversation well, just as well as if it had happened on 
yesterday. Occasionally I remember some of our conversations on phi- 
losophy, science, art, law, etc., etc., which have never been made public. 
I would send them to you, but what's the use? The Book is fixed, like 
the law of the Medes and Persians, cast-ironed. 

Your friend, 



Springfield, IU., January 5, 1889. 
Friend Weik: 

Mr. Speed told me this story of Lincoln. Speed about 1839-40 was 
keeping a pretty woman in this city, and Lincoln, desirous to have a 
little, said to Speed : "Speed, do you know where I can get some?* 9 and 
in reply Speed said : "Yes, I do, and if you will wait a moment or so 
Fll send you to the place with a note. You can't get it without a note 
or by my appearance." Speed wrote the note, and Lincoln took it and 
went to see the girl ; handed her the note after a short "how do you do, 
etc.," Lincoln told his business, and the girl, after some protestations, 
agreed to satisfy him. Things went on right; Lincoln and the girl 
stripped off and went to bed. Before anything was done, Lincoln said 
to the girl: "How much do you charge?" "Five dollars, Mr. Lincoln.** 
Mr. Lincoln said: "I've only got three dollars." "Well," said the girl, 
"Fll trust you, Mr. Lincoln, for two dollars." Lincoln thought a mo- 
ment or so and said: "I do not wish to go on credit. Fm poor and 
don't know where my next dollar will come from and I cannot afford 
to cheat you." Lincoln, after some words of encouragement from the 
girl, got out of bed, buttoned up his pants, and offered the girl the 
three dollars, which she would not take, saying: "Mr. Lincoln, you are 
the most conscientious man I ever saw." Lincoln went out of the house, 
bidding the girl good-evening, and went to the store of Speed, saying 
nothing. Speed asked no questions and so the matter rested a day or 
so. Speed had occasion to go and see the girl in a few days, and she 
told him just what was said and done between herself and Lincoln, and 
Speed told me the story, and I have no doubt of its truthfulness, 

Again Mr. Lincoln told the following story of himself to Judge 
Matheny, Milton Hay, and myself, all of us recollecting the story 
alike. Mr. Lincoln went up to Bloomington Court, and was gone from 
home some two weeks and was desirous to get home to attend to our 
own court. This was about 1850-51. Lincoln started home from Bloom- 
ington late on Saturday evening, got to Salt Creek, about twenty 
miles north of this city, and put up for the night with a Mr. Gotten- 
barger, an old friend of Lincoln. The house was a log one and had but 
one room in it, Cottenbarger having just settled in a wild place. There 
were three beds ia the room and some curtains between the beds, 


bedsteads were arranged so that the foot of one bed was close up 
against the head of the other the old man in the southeast corner, 
the grown daughter in the middle, and Lincoln's north. The people all 
went to bed, and way in the night the girPs feet, by accident and when 
asleep, fell on Lincoln's pillow. Occasionally in her sleep she moved 
her feet about. This put the detM into Lincoln at once, thinking that 
the girl did this of a purpose. Lincoln reached up his hand and put 
it where it ought not to be. The girl awoke, got up, and went to her 
mother's bed and told what had happened. Possibly Lincoln had tried 
to repeat what he had done just before. The mother said to the girl to 
pacify [her] : "For God's sake, say no more and go to bed, the man 
means nothing. If the old man hears of this, the deuce will be to pay." 
Lincoln heard the conversation between mother and daughter and 
thought that it might be possible that the old man was awake and 
not asleep. Lincoln knew Cottenbarger's physical power a great big 
burly strong man with great courage and he therefore fixed his eye on 
a large heavy hickory chair in the room with which to defend himself 
if Cottenbarger should attack him. However, all things settled down 
calmly and all went to sleep again, except Lincoln, now mortified to 
death at what he or the decKL in him had done. Early in the morning 
Cottenbarger got up, got a long keen butcher knife and whetted it in 
the rocky jamb, reached up the chimney and cut down a piece of dried 
venison, took a piece of bread, and went off into the woods. Lincoln 
in the meanwhile, shivering, kept his eye on the old man and on the 
chair. Lincoln heard some whispering between the old man and his 
wife and was convinced that the old man had heard all, and Lincoln 
really expected the devil was to pay. As soon as the old man had gone, 
the old woman got up, made the fire, and in a hurry got breakfast 
and hustled Lincoln off as quick as possible. Lincoln, glad to get off, 
jumped quickly in his buggy and was off for home, a deeply and thor- 
oughly mortified man. Cottenbarger had great discretion and hurried 
off to avoid a terrible fight with Lincoln. This hurt L. so badly that 
be had to tell it to his friends for relief, 

Your friend, 


P.S, Yoti are a very modest young man and how does this suit you? 
Would the stories do to ''point a moral or adorn a tale" ? Would they 
not do for riders? 


Springfield, IB., January 11, 1889. 
Friend Jesse: 

You remember, in the last proofs YOU speak about the Richmond 
article going into the Conservative by a kind of trick and that Lin- 
coln knew it, by inference or impliedly, etc. So far all right. You then 
make Lincoln make much of it, take advantage of it, when he knew 
how it was got in, etc. Please insert this : "It is probable that he used it 
with effect." Again in my correction I say substantially that the 
Conservative was a Democratic paper with pro-slavery tendencies; 
add or insert : "looking out of Republican eyes," or "was so by Re- 
publican construction." Then the whole in this particular will be 
exactly correct. Erase the words: "Lincoln told me" in the long- 
armed ape Stanton story. I intended to erase or modify it, but when 
it was too late ; was in a hurry to get the proofs to you. Lincoln may 
have told me the story. Please see to it and have it corrected. I want 
no errors if I can help it. You do not give me enough time to get things 
correct. I intend to keep on the safe side. If you have sent on the 
proofs, can you not write a note to the publishers to insert the qualifi- 
cations above or to send you the slip and you correct? Please do this. 
Someone will come back at us for the errors unless corrected. I want 
to be right and do right to all men everywhere and at all times. In the 
last proofs you, in speaking of Stuart et oL, say that envy is a degrad- 
ing passion. I wish to say a word in order to put you right in your 
views of human nature. Every organ of the body and every faculty 
of the mind is for some good purpose in the providence of God. Envy 
is a feeling and, whether it springs from the mind or body, it is in- 
wrought in human nature and runs down through all the animal 
world. Envy has its divine purposes and what is it, for example? If I 
see a man in some high position, has wealth, has a pretty woman, and 
I envy the man's possessions, it is an evidence that I want the posi- 
tion, want the wealth, want the pretty creature ; and this want makes 
me struggle to get what I want. Envy is a spur, a whip, a nettle, a stim- 
ulant, driving my ambition to get what I do want. Envy to fret at 
another's success is a degrading passion when abused, or rather it is 
the abuse of envy, the over-fret, that makes the abuse degrading. 
Jealousy is a good thing unless abused, so is appetite, so is the divine 
passion for woman, and so let no man say that God has givea to 
nature* embodied in men, a degrading passion. It is poor a imperfect 


man that abuses the divine in him. Lincoln was enmous and he mani- 
fested it in many of his speeches ; he wanted Douglas's position, and 
his envy, free from hate, made him struggle for it, and that struggle 
gave him not only Douglas's position, but a higher one, and satisfied 
his wants and gratified his ambition. Lincoln did not abuse that divine 
quality of his nature to get what he wanted. Lincoln in his speeches, 
various ones, tells on himself, proclaims it to the world, unwittingly, 
unconsciously. You do not like this kind of stuff, and yet it is neces- 
sary to think and get right. Your friend likes to get at the bottom 
of things by analysis and induction, by synthesis and deduction, and 
to pardon his follies and his weaknesses. You, I think, are a wor- 
shiper of the pure narrative style, a good thing by the way, and I 
forgive you for the worship of it. Will you be as generous to your 
friend? I gave you my ideas of envy once before in a piece on Lincoln 
which you have in your possession. Good friend, pardon me for this 
repetition of ideas. 

The more I think of Mrs. Francis, Mary Todd, and Mr. Lincoln, 
the more am I convinced that Mary Todd helped Mrs. Francis in the 
conspiracy to yoke Lincoln. Miss Todd wanted L. terribly and worked, 
played her cards, through Mrs. Francis's hands. By the way I now 
think that Speed told me a part if not the whole of the conspiracy. 
Speed and [undeciphered] about Lincoln and it [undeciphered] he 
told me the story at a day long before I commenced thoroughly taking 
notes in 1865. 

Again, the more I think of the Ann Rutledge story, the more do I 
think that the girl had two engagements, i.e., that she was engaged to 
two men at one and the same [time]. I do not recollect that she ever 
got a release from McNamar, though she tried to get one. Lincoln 
jumped in when Ann was ready to receive his jump. I do not think that 
Abraham acted badly. I shall change my opinion of events and things 
on the coming of new facts and in more mature reflection in all cases, 
and so excuse me for "sorter" wabbling around. I reserve the right to 
change when I am wrong in fact or opinion. I do not by this wish that 
the text of the book be changed, because it is substantially correct any- 
how* I have no suggestions to make and no pieces now to put in the 
book further than you know of, etc. Ugly weather here. How is it in 

[W. H. 


Springfield, III, January 15, 1889. 
Friend Weik: 

Your letter, dated the llth inst., was received, and I shall do by 
you as I would wish to be done by. I shall answer all your questions 
directly or indirectly put. First, if you know that it will be for our 
best interests to go on to New York, go ; secondly, if you know that 
you need help about the index, employ that help. I received some 
photos and will distribute them when I get able to go out and to the 
city. I am sorry that the index bothers you so much. It seems to me 
that our book ought to be got in two volumes. The three volumes will 
make it cost so much that it cannot be bought by the mass of read- 
ers. It seems so to me, but I suppose that you and the publishers know 
what is best. You speak again about the distribution of profits, etc., 
of our book. I said to you once that when I know the facts of the case 
I would, as I saw it, do you justice, and so I will. Thirdly, the second 
or new contract with B., C. & Co. does not give them the power or 
authority to give away our books to pay for the ads. In your letter 
to me, dated December 22, 1888, you state that both contracts are 
alike, identical except in a few things. I think that you err in this 
opinion woefully. The old contract required B., C* & Co. to pay all 
expenses, etc., and to reimburse them for the costs, etc., they had 
1500 copies of our book. The second contract is silent on that question, 
but the silence on that question i* no authority, even implied, to give 
away 4fl6 copies. Why not charge us with the costs of the agents and 
all other expenses ? It appears from the said account that 1061 new 
copies of our book were issued and only 415 copies accounted for. You 
may stand and sanction all this, but I shall not. I will hold someone re- 
sponsible for the loss, wrong, call it what you will. There is a day 
after tomorrow. I shall struggle against all swindles. There has been 
from 1887 to this day a kind of mystery hanging and hovering over 
this whole book affair. You do not answer my letters nor the questions 
put to you in them. Human nature would teach you that your silence 
breeds suspicion. You should be prompt and explicit in your business 
with me. You should willingly and fully explain to me all things in 

relation to this book business. I repeat to you that you are a d d 

bad correspondent. You ought to take it for granted that, when I ask 
questions of you, those questions are interesting, important to me* 
and rest on my mind, vexing me if not answered. Again I say that 


there was and is a perpetual mystery hanging over this book business. 
Why were the contracts with B., C. & Co. made in your name alone 
and not in the name of H. and W. ? Why throw up the old contract by 
which we were to receive 40^ per set and take a new one at 25^ per 
set? What was the consideration given us for the abandonment of the 
40$ clause and take 25fJ? Why did you not bounce the report sent 
mefromB., C.&Co.? 

Now as to changing the three volumes into one, I, as a matter of 
course, object. You know that I objected in the first place to the 
three- volume idea, wanted a cheaper book for the People. White's idea 
of the stream of literature was and is correct. Inventions follow the 
same law and so do taste, learning, ideas, fashion, etc. Do not spend 
any more money than you can help at the Western Literary Associa- 
tion. Would be glad to hear from you while at the association ; send 
along the papers if any should speak of us and our book. One volume 
will do if the matter, new and old, is not cut down ; want all in the new 
edition. The royalties to remain the same as in the three volumes. 

What do you think of Bob's acts? I'll tell you what I think, I think 

he*s a d d fool. He has the insane rage of his mother without the 

sense of his father. Robert Lincoln is "a wretch" of a man. Will you tell 
B., C. & Co. what he has done? 

I keep getting good complimentary letters from different quarters. 
I think the book is selling faster than B., C. & Co. are at present aware 
of. It so seems to me from the letters which I receive and from news- 
paper notices, etc., etc. There are two things about the book that 
strike me : first, no one doubts its truth ; and, secondly, no one says 
that it, in any way, is prejudiced against Mr. Lincoln. All say it is 
truthful and will shape Lincoln's character for all coming time. When 
nice, dainty, over-sensitive men, mere hero worshipers, get cooled 
down, the Life will be (ours) the leading Life of L. for many, many 
years. This is my opinion. By the way, send me a few of your circulars, 
tibose written by yourself as soon as you get them, please. 

Your friend, 


Springfield, HI., January ##, 1889. 
Friend Jesse : 

You are not the very best correspondent I ever saw, but I suppose 


that I will have to put up with it. I sent you the last proofs as soon 
as I could ; have been under the weather all winter, only going to the 
city twice this winter, my son going in my place and doing my business. 
By the way, I see that our friend Whitney in Chicago is to be handled 
pretty roughly in the woman-shooting case Mrs. Rawson*s case. I 
expect it will be proved that Whitney went too far, went way beyond 
the duties and privileges of an attorney and did unprofessional things, 
possibly corrupt things ; am sorry for it on two grounds : first, on 
Whitney's account, and, secondly, on our book's account. . . . 

I am extremely anxious to have three corrections made in our 
proofs, book: first, the Conservative newspaper story wherein Math- 
eny and Stuart indirectly cut a figure ; secondly, the story of Lincoln 
and Stanton, the long-armed ape story ; and, thirdly, the Parker ser- 
mon story wherein Lincoln is made to mark a sentence. In the second 
case, if I distinctly remembered that Lincoln said to me he heard Stan- 
ton say what he is made to say, I would not dodge, but I cannot state 
it so sharply, so distinctly. I heard the story often and from many men 
in this city, Chicago, and other places.Hence I cannot fix the man who 
first told me the story. In the third place, I loaned Lincoln the Parker 
sermon unmarked and, when it was returned to me, it was marked, and 
that is all that I can truthfully state. In the Conservative newspaper 
story as told by you in the proofs I cannot help you much. The records 
in your possession will explain the history fully. In reading the Math- 
eny letter you will see what Lincoln thought of the Fillmore move 
and the Conservative newspaper, and by my letters to you what he 
thought of Matheny, Stuart, etc. You see that it all corresponds with 
what I told you. What Lincoln said about M. and S. is private, sa- 
credly so. Lincoln scorned the whole move with all his soul. This I do 
know. Do you want any more facts about Lincoln to complete your 
record for the present or the future? State your wish, for it is a bother 
to me and costs me money, only a little it is true, but that little is 
much to me. 

I hope that the inundated state of the proofs has gone down by this 
time, hope that you are done trembling and free from all distress. Jesse, 
this is a bad state of literary affairs, is it not? Pray, Jesse, for better 
times. Here is a place and now the time that faith, with works and 
prayers, will do good. What do you think? Seriously, I judge from 
what you say about the many proofs recalled that you are straggling 


to correct errors, mate amendments, and to have things correct, true, 
etc., according to the facts, opinions, etc., of the records. I thank 
you for all this many times, many times, Jesse. 

Will you plea&e send me the new title page and the new preface or 
introduction to our book before the plates are cast, soldered together 
somehow? Copies, any kind, will do just as well. 

Your friend, 


P.S. Lincoln came out of the great Douglas race in 1858, after 
speaking probably fifty or sixty times, a new man, vigorous, healthy, 
fresh as a young man, better-colored, more elastic, more cheerful, less 
sad, stronger, and improved every way. Douglas was worn out, voice 
gone, broken down, a wreck, as it were. Saw both men during and just 
bef ore and just after the race and state what I saw and know. Lincoln's 
voice was less husky, broken, wheezy ; it improved all the time. 

Springfield, III., February 9, 1889. 
Friend Jesse: 

I desire to leave my ideas on Mr. Lincoln *s sadness, gloom, and mel- 
ancholy on the record. I have studied Mr. Lincoln from 1834* to the 
year 1889, and I have come to the conclusion long since that his sad- 
ness, etc., were caused by three things principally : first, his organiza- 
tion ; secondly, his knowledge of the low condition of his family and his 
descent, not including any idea of his illegitimacy resting on his own 
mind ; and, thirdly, his domestic relations, the hell of his domesticity 
or his domestic life. In this opinion I waive any idea of prenatalism, 
the influence of his mother's mind on him during her pregnancy, and 
hereditary influence. I would risk my chances in heaven on this long- 
settled opinion, founded on long years of observation, experience, and 
reason. You may reply: "Do not the letters from Boston from Bart- 
lett, the artist, and from physicians able, distinguished, and learned, 
from Boston settle that question, rather unsettle it?" and to which 
I reply : "Neither Mr. Bartlett nor any physician from Boston gave 
his opinion on the precise question. Their letters and opinions were 
on Mr. Lincoln's low organization, not on the causes of Lincoln's sad- 
ness, gloom, and melancholy." Now you have my distinct, definite, and 
eknB~eut ideas. Generally I write to you loosely, carelessly, and rap- 


idly, not caring what I said as to manner or method of expression, 
but sticking to the precise or substantial truth. This was all I cared 
for, knowing that jou would polish up things to suit yourself. I once 
talked about miasmatic influences on Lincoln in answer, as it were, to 
Nicolay and Hay's opinion on miasma. You have the letters and I stick 
to them in substance, but they are not on the precise questions in this 
letter, though they bear on them somewhat. I need not say to you that 
I have studied the sciences somewhat relating to these questions, and 
think that I am fully supported by them. In conclusion let me say to 
you this: The world will never rest till it knows all about Lincoln, 
inside and outside. 

Your friend, 
W. H. 

Springfield, III., October 5, 1889. 
Friend Bartlett: 

I received your kind letter from France, dated July 22, for which 
I thank you. Your letter should have been answered long since but I 
had two reasons for not answering: first, I have some hard work to do 
on my farm ; and, secondly, I had nothing to say and this last is a 
good reason. I am glad to know that your son has, at the great Paris 
Exposition, won a medal of honor. As you well say, for a young man 
just out of his "teens" to take the high honor which he did is glory 
enough. Success in Paris means much in his field. Every American feels 
proud of American success ; I do not care whether this success is in 
science or art. Tell your son for me to put his eye on his high ideal 
and keep it there with hope and chisel in hand till his highest piece shall 
walk out a perfect thing before admiring men. This masterpiece I do 
candidly wish he may execute. I love the youth of our land and pray 
for their success in all the walks of life. Their honor is America's 
honor. In fact, as I see it, America is the hope of the world. 

We out West feel the pressure of hard times, the armies of trusts, 
the power of monopolies, rings, and the like, but we are rich in all the 
necessaries of life. We have never in the West, in certain lines of lati- 
tude and longitude, raised such crops as we have this year. The trusts 
begin to shake, because they are scared over threatened State and 
national legislation, and well they be, for the people are being aroused. 


I do not like, as a general rule, to interfere with commerce, but robbery 
I have no respect for and trusts are robbers. 

You were informed at the time you wrote your letter that nay poor 
book was out, and I somewhat fear that you do not like it. The Life of 
Lincoln is having a good run, as I am told. In your letter you state a 
big fact, and it is this : "Truth is not, so far as I ever learned, in any 
general demand." The criticisms generally are favorable and yet some 
of them are savage, but I guess I can stand it quite bravely. Give my 
best love to all your family. 

Your friend, 


I'll send you those Lincoln notes just as soon as Senator Fowler l 
is done with them. He lost his lovely daughter, and I do not wish to 
say anything to him just now about the notes. H. 

Springfield, III., December 12, 1889. 
Friend Jesse: 

Your letter dated the 3d inst. is at hand. I do not see how I can 
ratify and confirm an act not already done. I can do this : I can con- 
sent that you make the contract spoken of in yours of the third with 
Belford, Clarke & Co., as long as you confine the contract to the terms 
of yours of the 3d inst., including the idea that B., C. & Co. account 
to us every three months, as in the old contract, or you can write out 
the contract and send it to me and I'll sign it. ... I trust you, Jesse, 
for I know nothing about book making and the sale of the books, am 
totally green in this business. I hope that the royalty plan spoken of 
by you will be the best thing that we can do in the matter. They 
B., C- & Co. will get some advantage or they would not make the 
new contract. I am quite intuitive about men as well as coming events. 
Lincoln used to pay great attention, or had respect rather, to that 
peculiarity of my nature, and in coming to the office of a morning, 
during the exciting years from '54s to *60, he would always say : "Billy, 
how is your bones philosophy this morning?" He said this because I 
frequently told him that this or that would inevitably take place be- 

i See HenMkm*s letter of February 18, I88. 


.Lincoln's Compi- 
lation on Slavery 


Prepared by 
Lincoln for 
His Debates 
with Douglas 

LETTBHS yaOM H B tt H D O H 243 

cause I felt it in my bones* This I told Mm often. Lincoln was entirely 
logical, had no intuition at all. You will see this better told in the 
Everyday Life of Lincoln. . . . 

I am glad to know that you will soon go at work in collecting new 
materials and in writing up the pith and marrow of our new matter. 
I promised Mr. Pierce that he should see our note on his matter sent 
to us. The Lincoln Locofoco skunk story * is in two of my letters now 
in your hands, hunt 'em up if you use the story. What I have sent you 
as new matter, you can use or not at your pleasure. Much of what 
I say to you about the new matter, notes, etc., etc., for the book, will 
send you all things worthy of your attention and the world's, glad 
that you want to make the book perfect as it can be, a great historical 
monument for Lincoln especially. Mr. White 2 thinks that the story, 
etc., of the chronicles of Reuben or the Grigsby episode ought to be 
stricken out in the third edition, as it cannot be in the second edition. 
If it had never gone in the first edition, possibly I would say, don't 
put it in, but as it has gone before the world, I am, as I now feel, 
opposed to modifying, changing, or wholly omitting it in the third 
edition. The whole story only goes to show the condition of society in 
Indiana, Lincoln's home from 1816 to 1831, that Lincoln was affected 
by his environments, but that in after life he was strong and great 
enough, through his struggles, to cast it off and rise above his early 
environments, which not one man in a million can do. The episode 
is a part of his history, explains the germs of his wit and his fawmor. 
I admire the good tastes of life as well as any man or woman and 
cannot be made to defend the nasty, obscene, or vulgar under any cir- 
cumstances, but I do fail to see why the episode causes a blush on any 
man's or woman's cheek. Some people are too nice for this material 
sphere, this muddy globe of ours. I'll think about this matter further. 
You know that I am easily managed, want our book to be a glorious 

Your friend, 


Make no kind of a reply to what Nicolay and Hay say of our 

i See pp. 397-398. 

* An editor at Belford, Clarke & Co. 


Springfield, 7ZL, December %Q, 1889. 
Friend Bartlett: 

Your letter, dated the 17th ult. y was duly received, for which I 
thank you. I fear that what you say about Robert Lincoln is true; 
he has his mother's insane temper without his father's discretion. 
I have a tender feeling for the man, first, because of the "boy," and, 
secondly, on account of his father ; and yet I must say that Bob is a 
"little wee bit of a man," I am sorry that he did as you were informed 
he did. It is just like Bob, however. A book cannot be put down by such 
methods. Such acts will, if known, add to the sale of the Life of Lin- 
coln, the sale of any book. I am told that the Life of L. can be had 
in Paris, Brentano's, Rue de POpera. 

I owe you an explanation and PU give it here. When I finished the 
Life of Lincoln, I was as poor as a church mouse and even so yet. To 
get it published I had to bend to terms. I was compelled to wait for 
books or money till the publishers were paid in full. They have not as 
yet been paid, as I am informed. Consequently, I have received up 
to this day no books, no money, neither of them. I am compelled to 
work on my farm today for my tomorrow's bread and butter. This 
explains to you why I have not sent you a copy, but I will some time, 
if I live. You must not think, my friend, that I am stingy or un- 

I think that you are correct when you say that truth, in no quarter 
of the globe, is in much demand, and never has been, and never will 
be. Men love old truths, never new ones, as a general rule ; they handle 
truths gingerly, but there are souls that do love the truth for its 
own sake, and sooner or later the Life of L. will find them. I drew 
the picture of Mr. Lincoln as I saw and knew him. I told the naked 
God's truth, and I'll stand by it, let the consequences be what they 
may be. I think that the great majority of the critics look at the book 
favorably. I get a great many private letters congratulating me on 
the book. It is a curious and a wonderful fact that no critic and no 
other man doubts the facts, the truths, stated by me in the Life of L. 
I have seen some savage attacks on the book. One editor says it is 
vulgar, obscene, etc*, the article, as supposed, was inspired by Bob. 
Pardon me for talking so much about this subject. 

Now let me talk some about other things. The Democracy was in 
the late elections victorious. The depleting in the Republican ranks 


was mostly caused by the high tariff and consequent high taxation 
on the necessaries of life, caused by it. Trusts, rings, corners, and the 
like methods of swindling have caused some suffering and much "cuss- 
ing." President Harrison seems up to this date a weak brother and 
an obstinate one. If he does not improve soon, he will make President 
Pierce's administration quite respectable. The great fight in Congress 
this winter will be over two subjects : first, the tariff, and second, over 
the distribution of the excess of money, the surplus in the Treasury put 
there by the high tariff. I am not shooting politics at you at all, only 
giving you, in this line, what is, has been, and will be. 

In one of my letters I said something to you about crops. In Kansas 
the people are burning corn in place of coal, finding it the cheaper 
fuel of the two. We can send to Europe somewhere near two hundred 
millions of bushels of wheat, and other farm products in proportion. 
We are rich in things to eat but suffer somewhat for money, the great 
surplus in the Treasury causing a contraction in the money market. 
You say that America will have to go through her troubles and if it is 
not one thing it is another correct, but do not all general human 
troubles keep us from stagnating and going backward? Progress is 
slow but sure. 

I see that the Knights of Labor and the Farmers' Alliance have 
united, and if they can agree, they will soon be victorious, because they 
are in the majority. But the question is : Can they agree and stick? I 
see that the W.C.T.U. has swallowed up the Women's Rights party 
and that it the Woman's Christian Temperance Union has split 
wide open. So reformers can't somehow agree and stick. I see that the 
idea of single tax is growing and so is communism; anarchism and 
other wild isms are struggling for life. The devil seems to be in hand 
all around everywhere. 

Respects to all. 

Your friend, 


Springfield* IS., January $, 1890, 
Friend Weik: 

Yours of the 12th inst. is at hand and is the most satisfactory letter 
yet received from you. Today I send you by express a bundle of letters. 


etc., by express, not having money to pay postage. The letters you 
can read and burn up, unless there is some other valuable matter in 
them. There are some important letters and other matter from Hon. 
Ed. L. Pierce of Milton, Massachusetts. I have received two or four 
letters stating that the period or time from 1844 to '50 was not suffi- 
ciently elaborated. Mr. Pierce explains Lincoln's first Eastern trip 
through New England to see Bob, etc. There is likewise a newspaper 
three articles by Mr. Pierce which is good. Please read carefully all 
that Mr. Pierce says and write out a good long piece and insert in 
our book and give him credit for it in the note. This I promised Mr. 
Pierce. What he says is important and on a point that none of the 
Laves of Lincoln has touched upon. Lincoln said, during this trip 
East, his first trip, that (to some city in Massachusetts) "I under- 
stand you have some abolitionists out here. We killed one out West a 
few months ago." This was saying the wrong thing at the wrong place. 
Note what Pierce says and quote it. In fact, read all that Pierce says 
carefully and write out a good piece and insert in our book and do 
not fail to give our authority. There are some papers from Charles 
Friend * of Kentucky about Nancy Hanks, Thomas Lincoln. From 
this man's testimony it appears that there was but one Nancy Hanks 
and, if that is so, then Thomas Lincoln married Dennis Hanks's 
mother. Read what Charles Friend says. Probably no attention need be 
paid to it, though file away the papers as evidence. 

You wish me to read over our book and note mistakes. Jesse, when 
I sent you the corrections, I told you to put the corrections on a 
separate piece of paper so that you could refer to them easily in mass, 
but it seems "the gal" was uppermost in your mind, and so the devil is 
to pay. It is possible that I can do you no good, because I have no 
time to reread and correct. You know my pecuniary conditions and 
have to toil all the time in some way, in mind or body, to get my bread 
and butter. I owe the bank here $21, and it bothers me terribly. If I 
had that sum, I could do you good. This frets and annoys me so that 
I cannot read or think. 

I wish you would write out a short eulogy on Lincoln's virtue during 
his married life. Lincoln, I know, as well as I know anything, was true 
to his wife, to his marriage vow. His idea was that a woman had the 
same right to play with her tail that a man had, and no more nor less, 

i See pp. 340^-848. 


and that he had no moral or other right to violate the sacred marriage 
vow. I have heard him saj it a dozen or more times. '^Lincoln's honor," 
as Judge Davis said, "saved many a worn an, w This is true to my own 
knowledge. I have seen women make advances and I have seen Lincoln 
reject or refuse them. Lincoln had terribly strong passions for woman, 
could scarcely keep his hands off them, and yet he had honor and a 
strong will, and these enabled him to put out the fires of his terrible 
passion. It is a physiological truth that most male consumptives have 
goatish passions. This eulogistic piece should have gone in the first 
edition of our book but was somehow overlooked. Don't fail to put it 
in the second edition. It would have done us good then and will now. 

Your request to search our book over and make notes of errors, etc. t 
for the second edition comes like a clap of lightning from a clear sky. I 
cannot do as you request, do what you wish, as quick as lightning 
"ai once." Had I known it in time, I could have done as you wish, 
but I cannot now "at once" do it quicker than lightning. You will have 
to run over my letters and pick out what corrections I have made to 
you heretofore sorry for it, but can't help it now. . . . 

Your friend, 


Springfield, IS., February 8, 1890. 
Friend Jesse : 

Your letter of the 31st nit. Is at hand. I am much obliged to you 
for it and especially for the twenty-one dollars* accommodation. When 
I wrote to you my letter about money I was gloomy, but did not intend 
to ask you for it, was only stating, as it were to myself, the Skeol 
I was in and as an excuse to you why I could do nothing to assist in 
the correction of the book. However, I am more obliged to you than 
ever because the advance was voluntary and of your own good free 
will. The loan puts my feet on solid ground once more. You must 
believe me when I say I thank you a thousand times for the money. . . . 

I am glad to know that the letters from others which I have sent 
you please Jesse. I want Jesse pleased and his hopes lifted up, glad 
he is out of his blues, out of his ^ass-despair, and in full blooming 
hope. Why, Jesse, if you could know all the compliments which I 
receive by letter and in the city from all classes, strangers loo, 


would feel good all over. If I can find some more letters like those 
which I have sent you, and I have them, I'll send to you. You know 
that I am careless with my letters, as a general thing, but I'll save 
good ones and send to you. Do not despair of our book. You once said 
to me substantially this : that the popularity of our book would not 
depend on what critics, good and bad, said, but would depend on 
what was said by word and what went from mouth to mouth, and 
that is true and ever will be. You may write to Mrs. Curtis and others 
if you think prudent, but let Providence be your guide. By the way, 
Nicolay and Hay, I think, have given us a back-handed lick, a mali- 
cious hit, it may be. See Century page 574, second column at the top. 
Keep cool and say nothing. As to the man Powers, he is a poor devil 
who keeps the monument affair and who has been accused of extortion 
from visitors to the monument. This has been said publicly. This man 
is a fool and so let him pass as unworthy of notice. I know the man 
and I say he is an ass and a poor ass at that. I guess that N. and H. 
are envious, that's what's the matter. * , . 

You know that I have never said anything to you, or to anyone 
else for that matter, that was not true, not the fact, and so I promise 
you to be as vigilant as I can be under all circumstances. You know 
that a man who has to struggle today for his tomorrow's bread is 
rather a poor hand in mental work or in literature. Don't know what 
stirred up Powers except natural "cussedness." 

You ask me to make some notes of my life and send to you for pub- 
lication. I'll do so, but they will be few and of no value to anyone. Do 
you want them for Appleton's Biographical Dictionary? That firm 
has likewise written to me for some facts of my life. 

Enclosed you will find a good letter from ex-Senator Fowler, once 
Senator from Tennessee. He speaks fairly and is a personal friend 
of mine. He and I became acquainted in this city about 1865, possibly 
before this. I've a good letter from General James Grant Wilson. . . . 
Grant Wilson says it is, our Life, an admirable work. 

What I said to you about B., C. & Co. was said to arouse you to 
watchfulness, no more. Keep your eyes wide open on B., C, & Co. 
Do you never doubt? 

Your friend, 

W. H. 
P.S. The Lord be praised for your loan. H, 


SprmgfeU* IU., March 7, 1890. 
Friend Weik : 

. . What you state about the English edition of our book is more 
or less satisfactory, and yet I would suggest that you find out the all, 
the whole of the thing. What Mr. Bartlett says about "Bo&" he 
thinks is true, doubtless has been so informed. I have faith in Bartlett. 
I hope that the second edition of our book will soon be issued and 
quickly sold, want to see the third edition badly, as it will contain 
many new and important facts ; glad that you begin to hope, for you 
say that the book is on the upgrade ; glad that you have got some new 
and good letters on your own account, doing justice to our book ; yes, 
Fll send all the good letters which come to me. I am glad that Horace 
White proposes to write us out his ideas on L.'s campaign in '58, it 
will be good ; glad that you have personally got much and good new 
matter when you know that I have been corresponding for some years. 
His letter is dated November 17, 1889 and is from France. If Robert 
is able and willing to buy up whole editions of our book, we can sup- 
ply him to his heart's content, can do so I suppose every month or 
so. If no one in London will sell the books, we can land them on the 
wharf and notify the minister of the fact. Weik, I always thought Bob 

a weak brother, but never thought that he was such a d d fool. 

Why, his acts in this matter are little, mean, malicious. He is a Todd 
and not a Lincoln, is a little bitter fellow of the pig-headed kind, silly 
and cold and selfish. I do not think that he will suppress the book in 
this way. The book will live and be read when he is dead and forgotten, 
or only remembered by his name being in the book. This is my judg- 
ment. I suppose that Bob will cremate the Life of his father and 
scatter the ashes in the Thames or over the sea. If this will satisfy his 
little soul, let him alone in his glory. Success to him in his efforts to 
suppress the truth. Can he stop the sun from shining? If you think 
prudent, you can copy the above quotation, the foregoing one, and 
send it to Belford, Clarke & Co. It may be an act of justice to notify 
them of what my correspondent says, but in no case is my name nor my 
correspondent's name to be made public. I want no controversy with 
Robert on his father's account. I respect him so much, worship him* 
if you please, that I do not want any words with Bob. I cannot help 
but feel kindly toward the little fellow. Tell B., C. & Co. that my nae 
as well as my correspondent's must in no case be made public if tlaey 


use it in any way. I see no impropriety in sending to B., C. & Co. the 
quotations, but you think about it. 

Occasionally I get letters highly complimentary of our book. One 
man from Pennsylvania says : "I see by the papers that your book has 
been well received ; it does not surprise me, as such a grand work will 
have a large sale." Others say substantially : "Thank heavens that we 
have at last a true Life of Lincoln, one that we can swear by." It is 
a curious fact, Jesse, that no man, no critic, no reader, ever doubts 
the truth, fullness, of our book. I have never heard or read that any 
person doubts the facts or opinions in the Life of Lincoln. The book 
must sell and sell well as long as men love the truth more than false- 
hood. All the good people want is a good chance to get the book, and 
you are the man to hustle it along, push it vigorously so that the world 
can get it easily and cheaply. The reason the folks do not write to 
you is because they do not know where you live. A Mr. Wilson from 
Maryland says: "The book is as interesting as a novel, etc.," and 
so it runs. I know that some of our books have gone to Germany and 
France, because men of veracity have told me that they have sent 
them themselves. 

Jesse, do not now come here till the weather is settled, say Decem- 
ber 20, or better January 1. You know that I am tolerably old and 
do not wish to wade or swim to the city, mud, mud, mud, and nothing 
but mud. 

Your friend, 


I'll come anyhow on three or four days* notice, mud or no mud, but 
would prefer about January 1 . H. 

Sf ring-field, JZZ., AprU 4, 1890. 
Friend Weik: 

Enclosed you will find a letter of mine written to C. O. Poole, my 
old friend, which was published in the New York Sun of March 24, 
18$0. The little slip accompanying the letter will explain why it was 
written. It was a hasty letter, not written for publication, but I sup- 
pose it struck Poole and possibly the editor of the Sun. Please read 
tlie letter over and over and get the spirit of it. Jesse, there is a good 
chance for you to write out an eloquent note. In tibe first place Lincoln 


placed his administrative abilities in his power to rale men ; he said 
this to Swett ; see our Life of L., page 583. Read carefully from the 
words, "In his conduct of the war," down to and including, **I have 
kept these discordant elements together as well as anyone could," 
When this is done, read his farewell Springfield speech, wherein he, 
Lincoln, appeals to the Christians, invokes their power, and winds 
them around his finger. . . . Then think a little. When this is done, 
look at his Cabinet, etc., etc., and why they, the members of it, were so 
appointed, men who opposed him in the Chicago convention. Lincoln 
was a shrewd, sagacious, long-headed man, a cunning fox. From the 
time of his farewell Springfield speech he was at long-headwork recon- 
ciling antagonistic elements, discordant elements, with which he had 
to deal ; he used all just as he wished. I say he used all and made all his 
tools ; he was the superior of all and governed all by his intellectual 
superiority. Now read Swett's letter as above referred to, and you 
will catch the idea of the note or piece which I want you to write out 
fully and eloquently. Read my letter to Poole over and over; it will 
help you. Can't such a piece go in the text of the book? Lincoln was a 
long-headed old fox, a shrewd manipulator of men, a man full of prac- 
tical political sagacities. As Swett says, he was the great American 
trimmer when men had to be used. What I have said in the Poole letter 
and in this letter is true of Lincoln, true to the letter and the spirit. 

Jesse, why don't you write to me more frequently? I am half dead 
for a letter from you. 

Your old friend, 

W. H. HE&NIX>N. 

P.S. The note can best come in on page 541, after the words, "bar- 
gained for/* 

Lincoln's idea was, how to make the North ong, a solid and united 

By appointing these Cabinet men he made the friends of each his 

Springfield, IU, 9 Jt% 6, 1890. 
Friend Jesse: 

Your letter, dated the 28th wft,, inclosing B., C. & Co.'s report or 
statement of their account with us, was duly received, for both of 


which I am much obliged. The statement, the report, is all wrong. 
First, the last contract with B., C. & Co. and ourselves requires the 
binders and printers to make a statement of the number of books 
bound and the number of books printed, etc. No such statements are 
made accompanying B., C. & Co.'s report. Secondly, it seems that, 
from the account furnished us by B., C. & Co., we are charged with 
416 copies of our book sent to editors, possibly you as editor. Now 
what right has B., C. & Co. to give away 416 copies of our book? 
B., C. & Co. agree to give us a royalty 25^ for every book sold or set 
of books sold. If they, B., C. & Co., thus paid their advertisement ac- 
count with the papers, then so many sets of the book are sold and we 
are entitled to pay for the 416 thus sold. Where is this army of edi- 
tors? Who are they and where do they live? 416 Eds.! 416 lies, eh? 
These 416 copies were given away, if any were given away, since the 
new edition was issued. 

Now, Jesse, drop the woman right off or take one for good right off, 
"at once," and sharply attend to our business in a quick sharp busi- 
ness way and all will yet go right. I am determined not to be swindled. 
I have been warned of this by different men at different places and 
times. A screw is loose somewhere and the thing to be done is to find it 
and put it in its place. 

I have kept B., C. & Co.'s statement. Write to them for another and 
hereafter require duplicate statements in order to save trouble. Please 
read the two contracts over and over carefully, study them and stand 
square on them and enforce them. Look sharply into things, keeping 
your eyes open, and while thus acting hunt up my last three letters and 
answer the various questions do, please. 

Jesse, I speak to you in a friendly way, but am firm in my deter- 
minations not to be swindled. 

Your friend, 


Sprwgfield, HI., Jtdy $5, 1890. 
Friend Jesse: 

Your good letter, not to say excellent, dated the 20th in&t., was duly 
received, ... I have always thought that something was wrong and 
am glad to know that part of the wrong going and wrongdoing is to be 


attributed to bad agency and other crooked management of the 
firm. . . . 

You ask me to write out the story of how I did %t % etc. I will send you 
a note of it soon ; am busy as a bee in selling my vegetables, fruits, etc., 
in order to live. Jesse, it's a bad thing to be poor, ain't it? 

. . . By the way, Jesse, there is a healthy change going on about 
our book. Men who cursed it when it first appeared now say upon the 
whole it is a good book. The second sober thought will bring men 
around to the truth or the love of it at last. Whether the book pays 
right now or not, one thing is certain, and that is : that the book will 
live. As the race of man progresses, the more the race loves truth. Men 
in this particular get braver every day. I can feel that in my bones. 

Your friend, 


Spriiigfield, III, Septeniber $4> 1890. 
Friend Weik : 

Enclosed is a letter from McArthur which you may wish to see. . . . 
I send you likewise a letter from Mr. King, an old abolitionist, friend 
of mine, is truthful. He says that Alsop, another old abolitionist and 
friend of mine, and himself got the anti-slavery men generally to vote 
for Lincoln in *4# in this, then Lincoln's, district. I have no doubt of 
the truth of this, none at all. This will account for Lincoln's over- 
whelming majority over Peter Cartwright. I think Erastus Wright, 
the pension man, opposed Lincoln. You can make a note of these facts, 
or fact. . . . King's letter I have answered, giving him and Alsop 
great credit for what they and friends did in the matter. They in- 
creased Lincoln's majority greatly. This I know of my own knowl- 
edge. King and Alsop were strong leaders of the anti-slavery cause in 
Lincoln's district in ? 46. 

About the year *56 a gentleman from Chicago by the name of 
Z. Eastman, editor of an anti-slavery paper in Chicago, came into my 
office and introduced himself to me. After some general and running 
conversation on this subject and that, Mr. Eastman said to me: 
"Herndon, I know you as a firm and true anti-slavery man, but we 
anti-slavery men North don't know Mr. Lincoln so well. What are his 
ideas on slavery and can we trust him?" I said to Mr. Eastman in re- 


ply : "Mr. Lincoln is a natural-born anti-slavery man, and now you go 
home and use the influence of your paper for Lincoln." (This paper 
was the predecessor of the Chicago Tribune or the Press and Tribune, 
I forget exactly which, think it was the Tribune.) "Can you trust 
yourself?" I said further to Mr. Eastman. "And if you can, then you 
can trust Lincoln, for God will keep him right. Now you keep the peo- 
ple right and, as to Lincoln, you can trust [him]. Tell our friends in 
Chicago and elsewhere to trust/' Mr. Eastman was a committee man 
from Chicago who was appointed to investigate, etc. He went home to 
Chicago and opened his paper, as far as he could, for Lincoln. This 
is how the anti-slavery men in Illinois were such strong friends of Mr. 
Lincoln. Eastman was appointed, by Mr. Lincoln, United States Con- 
sul to Great Britain as I remember it. Mr. Eastman and myself have 
written to each other since this matter transpired. In this conversa- 
tion Mr. Eastman asked me if it would not be wise for the anti-slavery 
men to go into the Know-Nothing lodges and rule them. I said to him : 
"No, never do this wrong to our cause. We are for the broadest liberty 
for all men.** I have cut things short. Our conversation in *56 was 
probably two or three hours long and much was said of Lincoln, slav- 
ery, the anti-slavery cause, the progress of it, hopes, etc., etc. I have 
forgotten the name of Eastman's paper, have once or twice called or 
said it was the Star, but I think I was wrong in this. The Tribune men 
can tell you. 

Let me tell you something else which I distinctly remember ; see our 
Life of Lincoln, pages 367-8, and read what I said as editorial in the 
Journal. You will perceive in the piece that Douglas frequently inter- 
rupted Lincoln, and now as to the why of it. Lincoln in opening his 
speech said this : "I willingly give Senator Douglas, who now sits in 
front of me, the privilege of correcting me where I am wrong in the 
facts about the whole matter of the Kansas-Nebraska Bill, which was 
introduced by the Senator himself and which is the offspring of the 
ambition and goal of slavery ; I say that I extend to him the privilege 
of correcting me in my facts and not in my inferences, as they are sub 
ject of dispute among men and would cause too many collateral issues 
to be raised and of no value to the main subject." Mr. Douglas was ir- 
ritated and thoroughly aroused; he made statements often, and ir- 
rekvant ernes, under the privilege of correcting facts. This was about 
t0 Interrupt and break the thread of it, Mr. Lincoln's speech, as a 


whole and set speech, when Mr. Lincoln said: "I revoke, I withdraw, 
what I have said to the Honorable Senator as to privilege and shall 
assert what I do assert on my own responsibility." This ended the an- 
noyance to Lincoln and to the vast crowd in the hall. Douglas saw and 
took a mean advantage of the privilege granted to him by Lincoln ; he 
made statements about things not in dispute nor bearing on the issues 
in dispute nor debate. In my opinion he did so to interrupt Lincoln and 
fret him and thus destroy the effect of L.'s speech. All this I saw and 
heard and distinctly remember it. 

Your friend, 


Springfield, IU., October S, 1890. 
Friend Jesse : 

I take it for granted that you are not of this world just now, nor 
will you be for some time ; but when you do come to earth, you can read 
this letter at your leisure or throw it away. . * . 

I wish to relate to you an important fact. Soon after the assassina- 
tion of Mr. Lincoln, I interviewed Mr. Judd, two or three times, in re- 
lation to his knowledge of Lincoln generaUy and particularly about 
what L. said in reference to the questions he intended to ask Douglas 
at Freeport. Turn to our Life of L., 410. Douglas put seven questions 
to L. at Ottawa. Lincoln went to Chicago and had a meeting of his 
friends and told them that he intended to put four questions to Douglas 
at Freeport and among those questions was the second one which was 
substantially this; "Can a territory exclude slavery from its limits 
while in a territorial condition or state?" At the meeting of Lincoln's 
friends at Dixon or Chicago were Peck, Judd, Ray, ei al All of them, 
after Lincoln had read the four questions to be put to Douglas at Free- 
port, objected to them and said in substance that Douglas would not 
positively answer the question directly and that, if he did, it would 
be in the affirmative and that would elect him to the Senate again. 
**It is none of your business, Mr. Lincoln, particularly to put the 
question because you are the candidate for the United States Senate, 
and that is your particular business," said Lincoln's friends. Lin* 
coin replied : "Douglas will answer the question as soon as asked aaci^ 
if he does not, I will push him to the wall at every joint defe&te or 


wherever I shall speak, otherwise than in joint debate, and the sooner 
Douglas answers, the better for him. The people demand a direct an- 
swer." "Douglas will answer in some glittering generalities and evade 
the question," said Peck, Ray, et al. "Yes, he will answer directly," 
said Lincoln ; and to which Lincoln's friends said : "To put the ques- 
tion is none of your business, Mr. Lincoln," and to which Mr. Lincoln 
said: "Yes, it is my business, and if Douglas answers the question, 
which he will, either way he is a dead cock in the pit." Mr. Lincoln here 
went into a kind of argument to convince his friends that he was right 
and concluded by saying: "I am after larger game. The battle of 
1860 is worth a hundred of this." . . . Lincoln evidently wanted to 
kill Douglas politically and did it effectively. I say that Judd told me 
what Lincoln said in the meeting of friends at Dixon or Chicago, I 
think Chicago, though White says that the meeting was at Dixon. 
Probably he is correct. Though Peck, Ray, Judd, et al., say that Lin- 
coln uttered the above words, still I doubt the exact words, because, as 
you well know, Mr. Lincoln was one of the most secretive men that ever 
lived. The expression means that "I am a candidate for the Presidency 
of the United States of America. That is what I am fighting for." I do 
not think that Mr. Lincoln ever uttered the words as stated, though he 
looked at the time for the office. I think at most that the words as 
above are inferences, legitimate ones. Lincoln never told mortal man 
his purposes and plans never. Evidently L. beat around the bush. 
As I think of things, I'll write you. 

Your friend, 


P.S. When you come to this sphere of man and mud, you will please 
write to me. 

Springfield, Itt., December 4, 1890. 
Friend Weik: 

In my last letter to you I stated that I had something to tell you 
about Lincoln which took place in *54, October, I think. I will now 
state it and, as you were present, you may remember it, and if you do 
not, this may refresh your memory. If you will turn to my Life of Lin- 
coln and read a short piece of editorial for our Journal written by me, 
page S68 on tte evening of the speech, yoti will see that I stated that 


Douglas frequently Interrupted Mr. Lincoln during his speech. In 
reading your excellent letter to me of February 27, 1890, and at the 
beginning of it you speak to me at least, feelingly and eloquently, of 
Lincoln and his speech in 5 54. Your remarks in that letter to me, the 
one which constitutes a chapter in the Life of Lincoln and spoken of 
above, caused me to be put in the same state, condition, consciousness, 
that I was in on the moment of the debate, and I saw everything, heard 
everything, as on the moment of the speech, after reading your re- 
marks in the letter spoken of. We are curious creatures and the mind 
and its laws are a riddle to me. Is it not true that we remember things 
once supposed to be lost forever by being put in the same state as we 
were when we saw or heard the thing? 

Mr. Lincoln, after opening his speech and clearing away the under- 
brush so that he might have a clear and open view of things, said sub- 
stantially this : "I give Senator Douglas the privilege of correcting 
me in any facts which I shall state, but not the inferences which I shall 
draw from them, as they are the nib of the whole question and would 
open too broad a field of debate now and here." Douglas sat right 
under Lincoln and was a little "cocked" at the time. For some time 
Douglas made no corrections nor suggestions but, as Lincoln pro- 
ceeded, Douglas got hot and a little vexed, if not angry. Lincoln be- 
gan to get warmer and struck harder and heavier blows, and then it 
was that Douglas quite every moment made some sideshow, so-called 
corrections of unimportant things, collateral ones not in issue at all in 
any way. The large audience saw and felt that Douglas was taking a 
mean advantage of Lincoln*s granted privilege to him. The crowd at 
last got angry and showed its feelings in different ways though not in- 
appropriately, not boisterously, generally. Lincoln himself began to 
feel, and I could see in his eyes a little ill feeling. You know that I un- 
derstood Lincoln, I think, inside and outside. The crowd got madder 
and madder at the foolish corrections so called made by Douglas, Men 
were uneasy and restless and the women, God bless *em, said by their 
acts : "Sit down, Mr, Douglas." Lincoln got more angry every mo- 
ment and at last in self-defense, rising to his full height coolly, calmly, 
said : "Senator Douglas, I withdraw the privilege of correcting me 
which I gave you a moment ago, and now, friends, the facts which I 
shall hereafter state I shall state on my own responsibility. 3 * Wlfeen 
tibls was said, I could see smiles of approbation run over the faees of 


the crowd and all was calm, peaceful, and pleasant after that. Before 
this, things looked a little "scary/ 5 "fighty," in one corner of the hall 
I took notes of his, L.'s, speech and loaned them to Governor Yates, 
who made in *56 and '58 many good speeches from them. I was up in 
the gallery on the little elevation near the speaker. My piece in the 
Journal shows my honest opinion of Lincoln's speech and of the ap- 
pearance and actions of Douglas. The reason why I have written 
this to you is that you may wish to make a note of it some time for 
your letter to me. 

I wish now to make another statement. If you remember, you once 
asked me if the text in Lamon's Life of Lincoln was correct, page 396, 
as I remember it, and in answer to which question I said : "It was sub- 
stantially correct," and I say so now. Our Judge J. EL Matheny said 
to me, only a month or so before he died, which was some two months 
since, that he heard Lincoln say in substance : "If Douglas can draw 
off such and such men from the cause of Republicanism and be made 
to support him, who says he does not care whether slavery is voted up 
or voted down, if he can get strong and influential leading Republican 
papers to laud him, and if he can attack and partly crush Buchanan*s 
administration and can get in Illinois so many votes to Buchanan's 
none, then he will play the devil at Charleston." From a letter of 
yours written to me a good while ago I infer that you did not get 
mine fully explaining, or confirming, Lamon. Excuse a friend, won't 

Your friend, 


Springfield, Itt., January 6, 1891. 

So far as a knowledge of the inner lif e and characteristics of Abra- 
ham Lincoln are concerned, I consider JESSE W. WEIK the best- 
equipped man of his day and generation. He was my associate in 
writing the Life of Lmcoln, recently given to the world, and is the 
most enthusiastic student of Lmcolri** mamelotis growth I have ever 
met. His zeal and indefatigable search for facts never allows him to 
stop short of the naked truth, and he therefore knows his great sub- 
ject inside and outside, mentally, morally, and physically. Realising 
tlbat I am BOW too old and infirm * . . I have turned over to him afl 


the letters, manuscripts, and other material pertaining to Lincoln 
which I have been steadily gathering together since that memorable 
day in AprU 1865, when the bullet of Booth did its fatal work. . . . 
I know that his heart is in his work and that his love for the Immortal 
raiUplitter araH ... 6^ his greatest inspiration . , . etc. 

[W. H. 

Springfield* IU. 9 January 1891. 
Friend Weik: 

When I was in Greencastle in 1887 I said to you that Lincoln had, 
when a mere boy, the syphilis, and now let me explain the matter in 
full, which I have never done before. About the year 1835-36 Mr. 
Lincoln went to Beardstown and during a devilish passion had con- 
nection with a girl and caught the disease. Lincoln told me this and in a 
moment of folly I made a note of it in my mind and afterwards I trans- 
ferred it, as it were, to a little memorandum book which I loaned to 
Lamon, not, as I should have done, erasing that note. About the year 
183637 Lincoln moved to Springfield and took up his quarters with 
Speed ; they became very intimate. At this time I suppose that the dis- 
ease hung to him and, not wishing to trust our physicians, wrote a 
note to Doctor Drake, the latter part of which he would not let 
Speed see, not wishing Speed to know it. Speed said to me that Lin- 
coln would not let him see a part of the note. Speed wrote to me a let- 
ter saying that he supposed L.'s letter to Doctor Drake had reference 
to his, L.*s, crazy spell about the Ann Rutledge love affair, etc., and 
her death. You will find Speed's letter to me in our Life of Lincoln. 
The note to Doctor Drake in part had reference to his disease and not 
to his crazy spell, as Speed supposes. The note spoken of in the memo- 
randum book was a loose affair, and I never intended that the world 
should see or hear of it. I now wish and for years have wished that the 
note was blotted out or burned to ashes. I write this to you, fearing 
that at some future time the note a loose thing as to date, place, and 
circumstances will come to light and be misunderstood. Lincoln was 
a man of terribly strong passions, but was true as steel to his wife 
during his whole marriage life ; his honor, as Judge Davis has said, 
saved many a woman, and it is most emphatically true, as I know* I 
write this to you to explain the whole matter for the future if it should 


become necessary to do so. I deeply regret my part of the affair in 
every particular. 

Your friend, 


P.S. Mrs. Dale was my guest for several days, say in *71, and she saw 
that memorandum book and took some notes of its contents, and it 
may some time come to light from that quarter, and so you have this 
as my defense. H. 

Springfield, 7ZZ., February 5, 1891. 
Friend Jesse: 

I want to give you a kind of bribery story about Mr. and Mrs. Lin- 
coln which took place soon after Lincoln was elected President. The 
story comes through Hermann Kreismann, who was appointed by Lin- 
coln secretary of legation, when Judd was appointed Minister to Ger- 
many. Kreismann is a gentleman apd can be relied on. The story is as 
follows. One Henderson of New York wished to be appointed to some 
office in the Custom House of New York. To get the office he sent to 
Mrs, Lincoln, in care of some jewelry house in this city, a diamond 
brooch to be given to her upon the condition that he could get the 
promise of the office from Mrs. L. Kreismann and Judd come to Spring- 
field on some important business and were to meet Lincoln at some 
place by appointment, but he did not come as agreed, Mrs. Lincoln 
having cornered him and he could not get away. Mrs. Lincoln got the 
diamond brooch, having promised Henderson to get the office for him. 
Kreismann was dispatched to hunt up Lincoln. He went to Lincoln's 
house and was ushered in, in a hurry and probably by the servant, she 
not telling Mr. and Mrs. Kreismann found Mrs. L. in a hysterical fit, 
cutting up like a crazy woman. She was begging Lincoln to appoint 
Henderson. Lincoln refused several times but Mrs. L. kept up her 
yells, her hysterical fit, till Lincoln, in order to get rid of the woman 
and quiet the fit, did promise Mrs. L. that Henderson should have the 
office, and Henderson got it according to promise. Henderson was 
subsequently indicted in the United States court for defrauding the 
government but was acquitted on some technical point. Henderson 
inew how to reach Mrs. L. and did reach her in Henderson*s way. 
Lincoln, to keep quiet in his house and to get the woman's fingers out 


of his hair, did a wrong thing, if he knew why Mrs. Lincoln was so 
anxious for Henderson's appointment. Such is woman and such is man 
the world over, weak creatures indeed. Lincoln must have had an idea 
of the motives and the cause of them that prompted Mrs. Lincoln to 
want Henderson appointed. By the way, Lincoln had no true notions 
of the propriety of things, as a general rule. I suppose that in this case 
Lincoln did not know what to do. The devil was after him and he stum- 
bled. Poor bedeviled fellow, unfortunate man ! 

Bob Lincoln was in this city about six weeks since, came here to 
bury his son, and while here someone, probably a friend of mine, asked 
Bob if he had seen Herndon's Life of Lincoln, and to which question he 
replied : "No, nor do I wish to see it." In this I rather think that "our 
minister to England" was a little mistaken, if I have heard the truth. 
You must remember that Bob is not his "daddy" nor like him in any 
respect whatever. Bob is little, proud, aristocratic, and haughty, is 
his mother's "baby" all through. He will never be President, though 
ambitious for it. 

How is your clerk and is she helping you? When I was younger than 
I am now and wished to say something smart, I took a toddy as exciter* 
but your pretty wife will be your stimulant and tonic. Give her my 
wannest regards, and if you will let me, I will say give her my love. 

Your friend, 


Springfield, IU., February IS, 1891. 
Mr. Bartlett. 
My dear Friend : 

Your note, dated the 5th mst^ is now before me, stating that you 
are back to America again and intend to stay at home where men are 
free. I am glad to hear you say that and am pleased to know that you 
are at home, am very glad to hear from you at all times, and especially 
now. I thank you for your opinion of my book, but regret to say that 
it has not paid me anything as yet. The publishers, Belford, Clarke 
& Co. of New York, "busted" some years or so since, are men of no 
capital or brains. Privately I had to take the business out of tbeir 
hands and give it to the house of Scribner's, which have the capital 
and the brains and will push the thing. The edition of the book 


they will publish will have much new, good, and excellent matter in 
it. I have been for years collecting new facts about Lincoln and in- 
tend to keep at it till I can hear no more facts to gather, and then the 
world can have the MSS. . . . 

There was quite a political revolution here in November last 
cause, the McKinley tariff bill, principally, though other things 
helped. Since you went to Paris, a third party has risen up and threat- 
ens to disturb the old parties. We have in this State a "deadlock" now 
in our legislatures over the election of a United States Senator. I think 
that the deadlock will break this week, but politics do not interest you 
and I shall say no more of them. 

If your wife is with you, give her, and any of the children in Quincy, 
my highest regards. 

Your friend, 


Springfield, IU., February 1, 1891. 
Friend Jesse: 

In your letter of the 8th mst. you ask me if I remember Mr. Lin- 
coln's lecture here in 1858-59, and in answer to your question, let me 
say I do distinctly remember-it. It was delivered here in Myer's Hall 
on the north side of the square, nearly midway between Fifth and 
Sixth Streets and some time, I think, in February probably Jan- 
uary *59. 1 heard the lecture and remember the subject of it very well. 
The title of it was substantially "The Time of the Different Inven- 
tions," mostly those mentioned in the Bible. Probably the word "dis- 
coveries" would suit the title as well. Knowing Mr. L. as well as I did, I 
was anxious to hear him, and did listen to him well, thoroughly, atten- 
tively, and curiously too. I know that Mr. L. was not fitted, qualified, 
in any way to deliver a lecture to our people, who were intelligent, well 
read, and well educated. I was not mistaken in the lecture which Mr. L. 
read ; it was a lifeless thing, a dull dead thing, "died aborning." It fell 
on the ears of the audience a cold flat thing. There was no life, imag- 
ination, or fancy in it, no spirit and no life. The whole thing was a kind 
of farce and injured Mr. L/s reputation as a man of sense among his 
friends and enemies. 

Mr. Lincoln was a peculiar, mysterious man. I wrote to you once 


that Mr. L. had a double consciousness, a double life. The two states, 
never in the normal man, co-exist in equal and vigorous activities 
though they succeed each other quickly. One state predominates and, 
while it so rules, the other state is somewhat quiescent, shadowy, yet 
living, a real thing. This is the sole reason why L, so quickly passed 
from one state of consciousness to another and a different state. In 
one moment he was in a state of abstraction and then quickly in an- 
other state when he was a social, talkative, and a communicative fel- 
low. In our office on the west side of the square we had a long office 
table running north and south. Mr. L. always took his seat on the 
east side of the table, looking westward, and I sat on the west side of 
the table looking eastward, and thus we sat face [to face]. About one 
o'clock in the daytime the sun, especially in the summer, streamed 
through the western windows of our office and flooded Lincoln's face, 
so that I could see to the very back part of his eyes. When thus situ- 
ated and in one of his abstract moods I studied the man and think that 
I could read his thoughts clearly, distinctly, certainly in a general 
way. You know my love of reading men, mind, moods, characteristics, 
etc. You are aware that I love the science of the mind quite over all 
studies and I had the very best of opportunities to do so. On looking 
at the man under the above conditions speculatively, critically, he 
would to the observer's surprise without warning burst out in a loud 
laugh or quickly spring up and run downstairs as if his house were on 
fire, saying nothing. Sometimes it took a strong effort on his part to 
awake, arouse himself from one condition on purpose or with intent to 
live in another state of consciousness. To do this he would tell a story 
or read a chapter in such a book as Jack Downing, Nasby, Bill Nye, or 
Josh Billings. The sharp points of one state of consciousness touched 
the other state, and it was therefore easy for him to pass from one 
state to another and a different state. Such was the man always. This 
law of the man may spring out of the double brain, each part lying 
close together side by side and touch to touch, one life in one hemi- 
sphere of the brain and the other life in the other. Jesse, you don't 
like this kind of stuff, I know, and will quit it, cutting it short for your 
sake, yes, for your sake. 

I was sorry that your lecturing tour was a failure. Jesse, do not try 
to lecture in the West till you first go East and create a big name aiwl 
then it will wave and ring out West. I tried to make a little money here 


years ago by lecturing in the West but it was a dead flat failure as to 
money, so I learned that I should have gone North first and then trav- 
eled West, so the world wags. "Westward the star of Empire," goes, 
and so do all business, inventions, discoveries, literature, etc., etc., 
etc., etc, 

I must get back to Lincoln. Lincoln's little offhand speeches made 
on his trip to Washington were wise things, i.e., they showed that Lin- 
coln was determined to keep his own secrets and make no blunders, ex- 
cite no hate, arouse no bad feelings, say nothing that would bind him 
till the development of the last fact in the great drama in which he was 
to take part. These speeches were called "Lincoln's last jokes," by 
way of contempt for the man and his cause. Let us defend Lincoln in 
this matter by stating the facts, ideas, purposes, etc., of the little 
things. I stated this to you before, but I repeat it because you may 
forget the facts and what I said. You know that you have been in 
love's purgatory for about two years, a most glorious purgatory too, 
when we know that some sweet priestess can slip us out by her love and 
her gracious ointments. God bless the woman. 

Can you not pick out the suppressed parts of Mr. Swett's letter and 
publish them in notes under the Swett letter, stating the facts that 
Swett suppressed them because he thought that no one would believe 
him in such radical views? I know that they are true and correct 
opinions of Lincoln in every particular. I hope that you recollect the 
facts of our writing to him and his letter of reply. 

I said to you while I was in Greencastle that Lincoln told me that 
John T. Stuart, Matheny, and the leading Fillmore men in this sec- 
tion were bribed by the Buchanan corruption fund, said that he be- 
lieved that the Fillmore party, i.e., leaders of it through the State, 
were bought and sold like hogs are sold in the market. That induced 
me to kill the Conservative published here. I had two ideas in getting 
in the Richmond Enquirer article : first, I wanted it published in the 
Conservative so as to show the rank and file of the Fillmore boys the 
course they were expected to move vote and act and in the end shout 
for slavery ; and, in the second place, I wanted to kill the Conservative 
out and out. It did soon die, possibly for want of funds or because of 
the Richmond Enquirer piece. The Richmond Enquirers article main- 
tained that slavery was right in principle and that it covered the 
white race as well as the black. It was a long piece and a well-written 


one. Here then is a full explanation of what I told jou when I was in 
your city. I remember too of writing to you some general words about 
this matter, but I repeat in order to make the matter full and plain. 
Lincoln 'knew what he was talking about, let me assure you. This can- 
not now go in print, but it can go to the world if needed, in the great 

Jesse, in the last two years I have written to you many letters send- 
ing you enough facts, good and true ones, to fill a volume the size of 
our book. The consequence is that all cannot go in our book and a 
selection must be made, leaving out much for some future biographer 
to use, if we cannot use the matter in some future edition of the Life 
of L. Looking at it in this light, I have selected three pieces which I 
prefer to all others, and they are : 

First, what was the war about, nullification, secession. 

Secondly, Lincoln's double consciousness in two letters one a 
long time since and the other this week. 

Thirdly . . . The third I have forgotten, will remember it and 
write you to fill the blank. 

Your friend, 


P.S. Am glad that you are on a high horse about the Scribners. I 
guess that they will push things ahead vigorously. H. 

Sprmgfield, 7tt., February $6, 1891. 
Friend Jesse : 

I wish to say a word or two about Mr. Lincoln's fatalism. First, he 
believed that both matter and mind are governed by certain irref- 
ragable and irresistible laws, and that no prayers of ours could ar- 
rest their operation in the least. Secondly, that what was to be would 
be inevitably. Thirdly, that the laws of human nature are persistent 
and permanent and could not be reversed ; he said this in his printed 
speech in *42 ; and, fourthly, he said, while he was President, that he 
did not rule events, during any time in his administration, but that 
events ruled him. All these things are of record and there is no mis- 
take about it. It follows that Mr. Lincoln was a fatalist, as fee himself 
has said, though his fatalism was not of the extreme order like the 
Mahometan idea of fate, because he believed firmly in the power of 


human effort to modify the environments which surround us. He made 
efforts at all times to modify and change public opinion and to climb 
to the Presidential heights; he toiled and struggled in this line as 
scarcely any man ever did. As to free will, he said that that which was 
governed by a force outside of itself was not self -governed and that 
which was not self -governed was not free, though he admitted that the 
will to a very limited extent, in some fields of operation, was somewhat 
free. The laws of the universe were, except as to human nature, outside 
of the will and governed it. The will, in addition, had to act along the 
lines of human nature, including the laws of motive, thus giving the 
will only a small field of action for the exercise of its freedom, so called. 

I wish to use the above statement of facts for an end, namely, to 
show that Mr. Lincoln believed that men are the children of condi- 
tions, of circumstances, and of their environments which surround 
them, including a hundred thousand years or more of education with 
acquired habits and the tendency to heredity molding them as they are 
and will forever be. His whole philosophy made him free from hate, 
free from love, intense and free from malice. No man was responsible 
for what he was, thought, or did, because he was a child of conditions. 
No man was censured by him or ought to be by others ; he was, by his 
philosophy, full of charity for his fellow-man. No man was to be 
eulogized for what he did or censured for what he did not do or did do. 
Hence Lincoln could well exclaim: "With malice toward none and 
charity for all." I never heard him censure anyone but slightly, nor 
eulogize any, probably with two milk and cider efforts, one of which 
was on Thomas Jefferson and the other on Henry Clay. He himself 
said : "I am not accustomed to deal in eulogies." I have often thought 
that he did not care anything for men, thought that he looked through 
them for, or at, the principle behind them, and of which they were the 
representative. He worshiped principle, laws. 

You once sent me a bitter invective said to be spoken by Lincoln to 
one Duff Green, a Southern nullifier and free trader, who had spoken 
to L. harshly about the war and its cruelties. The invective will be 
found, as you told me, in Belf ord's magazine. Now from the above, my 
friend Jesse, do you not see that the Belford piece is an absurdity, "a 
bald Be made out of whole cloth"? So are such invectives said to be 
from Lincoln. Another invective said to be pronounced by L. against 
an African slave-driver will be found in Holland's romantic Life of L. 


at pages 433~34. This is all mere "bosh, a lie/' Again there is another 
piece, though not of the same kind as the above, to be found the Inde- 
pendent, year 1859-60, New York. The article was written by a Mr. 
GvZliveT for the New York Independent. Gulliver, eh ! I counted nine 
or more barefaced errors in the article. Gulliver said that Lincoln 
opened to him his methods of education in a free and easy style. Jesse, 
I could pick out a hundred, if not a thousand, such things as the above 
now and then floating around in the newspapers. See, I have purposely 
written to you this, so that, if you need it, which I do not think you 
do, you can be on your guard as to the correctness of what you hear 
and read, 

If Lincoln's limited fatalism leads to the banishment of malice, 
causes freedom from malice and vindictiveness, to his broad and living 
charity for the foibles of his fellow-man, and to his general love for all 
men of all races and all religions, and to his nobility of thought and 
deed, then the race had better adopt a limited fatalism as theory and 
practice of its daily life, rather than the so-called Christianity. 

Jesse, I should like to know what you are doing about our Life of L. 
and what you intend to do about it in the future, as well as what you 
have done since the first edition of the Life published by B., C. & Co., 
but I know that you will not answer. I shall not ask any questions, but 
shut my eyes and say : "Good Lord, help me to see." 


Springfield, III, February 7, 189 1. 1 
Friend Bartlett: 

Your very kind letter of the 18th inst . was duly received and is now 
in my hand. I thank you for your good wishes. Pay or no pay, as to 
my book, I shall give to the world the facts of Lincoln's life, truly, 
faithfully, and honestly. The great future can then write its own book 
and be paid therefor. The world moves in its own way and in its own 
time. . . . 

Today I have written to Mr. Weik at Greencastle, Indiana, my 
partner in the book business, requesting him to send you the photos 
which you speak of. The others, including the portfolio, I have and 

i A notation at the head reads: "Last letter from Mr. Herndon. He died March 
3 1891." 


send you in a short time, I live in the country six miles north of the 
city and do not feel well enough right now to get out and attend to 
your business rough and muddy roads too, to crawl over. I do not 
wish to risk the business in other hands. 

To help you somewhat, I hope, in your conceptions, ideas, about 
Mr. Lincoln, let me say to you that he had a double consciousness, if 
not a treble consciousness. First, he was a terribly gloomy, sad man at 
times. Secondly, he was at times full of humor, "jokey," witty, happy. 
Gloom and sadness were his predominant state. Thirdly, at times he 
was neither sad nor humorous, but was simply in a pleasant mood, i.e., 
he was not in a gloomy nor a mirthful fit, was kindly, thoughtful, not 
serious even a state of thought and good feelings united for the mo- 
ment- This state appeared in him when in a pleasant conversation with 
friends* This last state was not of long duration. Lincoln was a curi- 
ous, mysterious, quite an incomprehensible man. Do not think that I 
exaggerate. These states, double or treble, are the causes why the 
photos are different a little as to likeness. The moment Lincoln took 
his seat at the photo machine and looked down the barrel of it, he be- 
came sad, rather serious, as all business with him was serious, life in- 
cluded. . . . You may show this short and hasty note to those who 
visit you when you get the photos, if you wish and think it will keep 

Your friend, 


Part Two 


. Letters to Ilerndon 


Tribune Office* Chicago, III., May 17, 1865. 
Dear Sir: 

Your letter of the 15th instant is received. The apostrophe to the Dec- 
laration of Independence, to which you refer, was written by myself from 
a mind recollection of Mr. Lincoln's speech at Beards town, August 12, 
1858. On the day following the delivery of the speech, as Mr. Lincoln 
and myself were proceeding by steamer from Beards town to Havana, I 
said to him that I had been greatly impressed by his concluding remarks 
of the day previous, and that, if he would write them out for me, I felt 
confident their publication would be highly beneficial to our cause as well 
as honorable to his own fame. He replied that he had but a faint recol- 
lection of any portion of the speech, that, like all his campaign speeches, 
it was necessarily extemporaneous, and that its good or bad effect de- 
pended upon the inspiration of the moment. He added that I had prob- 
ably overestimated the value of the remarks referred to. In reply to my 
question whether he had any objection to my writing them out from mem- 
ory and putting them in form of a verbatim report, he said: "None at all." 
I accordingly did so. I felt confident then, and I feel equally assured 
now that I transcribed the peroration with absolute fidelity as to ideas, 
and with commendable fidelity as to language. I certainly aimed to re- 
produce his exact words, and my recollection of the passage as spoken 
was very clear. After I had finished writing, I read it to Mr. Lincoln, 
When I had finished the reading, he said ; "Well, those are my views, and 
if I said anything on the subject, I must have said substantially that, tot 
not nearly so well as that is said." I remember this remark quite dis- 
tinctly, and if the old steamer Editor is still in existence, I could show 
the place where we were sitting. Having secured his assent to the pub- 
lication I forwarded it to our paper, but inasmuch as my report of the 
Beardstown meeting had been already mailed, I incorporated the remarks 
oil the Declaration of Independence into my letter from Lewistown two 
or three days subsequently. 

Although a matter of little moment, I have given you the facts thus 
in detail because you seem specially interested in it. Looking at the pas- 
sage BOW, I discover that it is not exactly in Mr. Lincoln's style, wMeh 
I deem imfortmiate, as it fails to convey the tremendous directness which 



he always gave to his utterances on those occasions when he rose to im- 
passioned eloquence. And I will say here that, in such moments, I have 
never heard his equal, and I believe I have listened at times to nearly all 
the public speakers of considerable reputation in this country. I cannot 
conceive that Patrick Henry, Mirabeau, or Vergniaud ever surpassed him 
on those occasions when his great soul was inspired with the thought of 
human rights and Divine justice. I presume that your suspicions in regard 
to the passage on the Declaration of Independence have been aroused by 
noticing a slight aberration from his style, as I do not remember ever 
having related these facts before, although they have often recurred to 
me as I have seen the peroration resuscitated again and again, and pub- 
lished (with good effect, I trust) in the newspapers of this country and 

In regard to the other topic in your letter I can only say that I ac- 
companied Mr. Lincoln almost constantly during the memorable cam- 
paign of 1858, that I had the pleasure of hearing nearly all his speeches 
those which were published and those which were not and I am sure 
that I never heard him say anything of the sort attributed to him by 
Bishop Simpson. I might add that it seems totally unlike him. My acquaint- 
ance with Mr. Lincoln commenced in 1854*, and continued, with frequent 
meeting, until his death, and I certainly should not hesitate to pronounce 
Bishop Simpson's citation an entire mistake. 

Very sincerely your friend & obedient servant, 



Office of Daily Tribune, Chicago, III, May $2, 1865. 
Dear Sir: 

Yours of the 20th is received. You can act upon your own discretion as 
to using the matter which I communicated to you, or my name in connec- 
tion with it. I care nothing about it. 

I think you are peculiarly qualified, by long and intimate association 
with Mr. Lincoln, by knowledge and appreciation of his character, and 
sympathy with his personal, professional, and political aims in life, to 
be his biographer. You were perhaps more nearly en rapport with him 
than any other. I trust you will not put off the task which you have pro- 
posed to yourself until others less informed, or not informed at all, shall 
have distorted him. I would not recommend undue haste, but, considering 
the tmcertaiBty of life, I would remark that you cannot employ your 


time more profitably to others (however it may be to yourself), than in 
pushing your task to completion with reasonable diligence. 

This reminds me that I was applied to the other day by Dr. Holland 
of Springfield, Massachusetts, to write something for a biography of 
Mr. L. which he is preparing. His proposition to me was that I should 
send him as much as I could prepare in two or three hours concerning the 
campaign of 1858. I remarked to him that I thought you were preparing 
a biography and recommended him to go and see you, and he promised 
to do so. 

Yours truly, 



Petersburg, III, J&ne 6, 
Dear Sir: 

Yours of yesterday is at hand. I will be more prompt this time. 

Miss Ann Rutledge died within a few days of September 1, 1835, 
certain. Lincoln bore up under it very well until some days afterwards a 
heavy rain fell, which unnerved him and (the balance you know). As to 
the Lincoln and Smoot story, I know it to be true as it was told me by 
Mr. Lincoln himself, and I afterwards told Mr. Smoot of it and he re- 
membered it. I remember Lincoln's words, but will see Smoot, and then 
give it to you. Whatever he says is as true as the word of man. Enclosed 
I send the printed slip, I published it in 1862. Every item in it I believe 
to have been true except in relation to keeping a stallion. I made good 
inquiry before writing and think I arrived at the truth. The order of suc- 
cession may not be technically true. 

As to keeping a stallion, the origin of this was that old Joe Walkins 
(now dead) kept a horse at Salem, and Lincoln requested him that, 
whenever a mare came, he would be sure to let him know it as he wanted 
to tee &, Walkins did so, and Lincoln always attended, etc. I have this 
from W. G. Greene and others as the truth. Mother informs me that when 
James Short arrives she will be able to give you more information than 
any or all the men in the county if his memory serves him well. 

Should I have anything of interest I will advise you. I will hunt up 
the books Lincoln kept for Father, etc* He (L.) was Postmaster at Salem 
a short time. 

Yours truly, 
JOHN Hnx. 



Sanitary Fair, Chicago, III., June 1$, 
Dear Sir: 

I received your letter dated the [undeciphered], asking eight or ten 
interrogatories. I take great pleasure in answering it, question by ques- 
tion as each is put and in the order asked. The ancestors of Mr. Lincoln 
came from England about the year 1650. They first settled in Bucking- 
ham County in the State of Virginia and not in Pennsylvania as stated 
in Abraham Lincoln's biographies. The ancestors of the Lincoln family 
were Scotch English. Two men came over from England about 1650 
one of these brothers was named Mordecai Lincoln and the other Thomas 
Lincoln, from whom the descendants derived their nature and their name. 
All died in Virginia. These two men were ironside Baptists. There was 
one of the children of these men who was named Mordecai the son of 
Thomas I know none of the children of Mordecai. I think that this 
Mordecai was the great-great-grandfather of President Lincoln. He was 
born in Virginia and died about 1700. Mordecai Lincoln was the grand- 
father of Abraham Lincoln, Mordecai Lincoln was the great-grandfather 
of Abraham Lincoln. He was born in the State of Virginia. Abraham Lin- 
coln, the son of Mordecai, came with his family from Virginia to Kentucky 
in about 1780 among the pioneers of Daniel Boone. He, Mordecai, died in 
Virginia. Mordecai was the father of Abraham's grandfather. Mordecai 
had six children, four boys and two girls. The only one of his, Mordecai's, 
sons I now remember was Abraham Lincoln, who was the grandfather 
of Abraham and the father of Thomas. He was killed by the Indians 

near Booneville, Kentucky, in County. . . . Abraham Lincoln, the 

grandfather of Abraham the President, had three sons Mordecai and 
Abraham and Thomas Lincoln, the last being the father of Abraham. All 
these sons and daughters scattered and went, some to Kentucky, some to 
North Carolina, Tennessee, Indiana, and Illinois. The Hanks family, of 
which I am one, was not connected with the Lincoln family till about 
1808. Thomas Lincoln, Abraham's father, was born in the State of Vir- 
ginia on the Roanoke. About 1775. Thomas Lincoln was six years old 
when Ms father was killed by the Indians. I wish to state one fact here 
about the killing of Thomas Lincoln, Abraham's grandfather. In Ken- 
tucky all men had to clear out their own fields, cut down the trees, split 
them into rails, etc., and in putting on the last rail, the eighth on the fence, 
one Indian who had secreted himself shot Thomas Lincoln. Then the 

Courtcty of the Henry E. Huntington Library 

Courtesy of the Henry E. Huntington Library 


Indian ran out from his hiding place and caught Thomas, the father of 
Abraham ; Mordecai, the oldest brother of Thomas and uncle of Abraham, 
jumped over the fence, ran to the post, shot the Indian through the pivot 
holes of the post, the Indian dropped Thomas, ran, and was followed by 
the blood the next day and found dead. In the flight he threw his gun in 
a tree top which was found. Mordecai $aid the Indian had a silver half- 
moon trinket on his breast at the time he drew Ms "bead" on the Indian, 
that silver being the mark he shot at He said it was the prettiest mark 
he held a rifle on. So remains now of old Thomas Lincoln's children, boys, 
three Mordecai, Thomas, and Silas, The children of Mordecai came to 
Sangamon; the children of Silas scattered some in Kentucky, some in 
Tennessee, some in North Carolina and Thomas Lincoln came to Indiana, 
There is Thomas Lincoln, Abraham's father, a young man; he, Thomas, 
at the age of twenty-five was married to Nancy Sparrow, not Hanks as 
stated in the biographies of the day. Nancy Sparrow, Abraham's mother, 
was the child of Henry Sparrow. Henry Sparrow's wife was Lucy Hanks, 
Abraham's [mother's] mother. The stories going about, charging wrong 
or indecency, prostitution, in any of the above families is false and only 
got up by base political enemies and traitors to injure A. Lincoln's repu- 
tation, name, and fame. Thomas Lincoln, Abraham's [father], was mar- 
ried to Nancy Sparrow about the year 1808 in Hardm County and State 
of Kentucky. Nancy Sparrow, the child of Henry Sparrow, married 
Thomas Lincoln when she was about twenty years of age; she was born 
in Mercer County, Kentucky. Thomas Lincoln was born in Virginia. 
Thomas Lincoln, the father of Abraham, owned about thirty acres in 
Hardin County, on a little creek called Knob Creek which empties into 
the Rolling Fork. He owned the land in fee simple. After the marriage of 
Thomas Lincoln and Nancy Sparrow, say in three or four years, Abraham 
was born at that place. The cabin was a double one, with a passage or 
entry between. About the year 1813 or '14, as the volunteers of the War 
of 1812 were returning home, they came by Lincoln's house and he fed 
and cared for them by companies, by strings of them. I was a little boy 
at that time, Abraham was a little child, and Sarah, Ms sister and senior 
by two or three years, was then likewise living and a little girl. They had 
no other children cause, a private matter. It is said in the biographies 
that Mr. Lincoln left the State of Kentucky because and only because 
slavery was there. TMs is untrue. He moved of to better his condition, 
to a place where he could buy land for his children and others at $1.25 
per acre; slavery did not operate on him. I know too well this whole 
matter. Mrs. Lincoln, Abraham's mother, was five feet eight inches 


spare made, affectionate the most affectionate I ever saw never knew 
her to be out of temper, and thought strong of it. She seemed to be im- 
movably calm; she was keen, shrewd, smart, and I do say highly intel- 
lectual by nature. Her memory was strong, her perception was quick, her 
judgment was acute almost. She was spiritually and ideally inclined, not 
dull, not material, not heavy in thought, feeling, or action. Her hair was 
dark hair, eyes bluish green keen and loving. Her weight was one hun- 
dred thirty. Thomas Lincoln, Abraham's father, was five feet ten inches 
high, very stoutly built, and weighed 196 pounds; his hair dark, his eyes 
hazel. He was a man of great strength and courage, not one bit of cow- 
ardice about him. He could carry fatigue for any length of time, was a 
man of uncommon endurance. Mr. Lincoln's friends thought him the best 
man in Kentucky, and others thought that a man by the name of Hardin 
was a better man so the two men through the influence of their friends 
met at a tavern in Harrodsburg, Kentucky. There the two men had a 
long and tedious fight and Lincoln whipped Hardin without a scratch. 
They did not fight from anger or malice but to try who was the strongest 
man, to try manhood. These two men were great good friends ever after. 
Thomas Lincoln, the father of Abraham, could beat his son telling a 
story, cracking a joke. Mr. Thomas Lincoln was a good, clean, social, 
truthful, and honest man, loving like his wife everything and everybody. 
He was a man who took the world easy, did not possess much envy. He 
never thought that gold was God and the same idea runs through his fam- 
ily. One day when Lincoln's mother was weaving in a little shed, Abe 
came in and quizzically asked his good mother who was the father of 
Zebedee's children; she saw the drift and laughed, saying: "Get out of 
here, you nasty little pup, you"; he saw he had got his mother and ran 
off laughing. About Abe's early education and his sister's education, let 
me say this; Their mother first learned them ABC's. . . . She learned 
them out of Webster's old spelling book; it belonged to me and cost in 
those days 75$, it being covered with calfskin or suchlike covering. I 
taught Abe his first lesson in spelling, reading, and writing. I taught Abe 
to write with a buzzard's quill which I killed with a rifle and, having 
made a pen, put Abe's hand in mine and moving his fingers by my hand 
to give him the idea of how to write. We had no geese then, for the coun- 
try was a forest. I tried to kill an eagle but it was too smart; wanted to 
learn Abe to write with that. Lincoln's mother learned him to read the 
Bible, study it and the stories in it and all that was moral and affectionate 
in it, repeating it to Abe and his sister when very young. Lincoln was 
often and much moved by the stories. This Bible was bought in Philadel- 
phia about 1801 by my father and mother and was mine when Abe was 


taught to read in it. It is now burned together with all property, deeds , 
family and other records. This fire took place in Charleston, Coles County, 
Illinois, December 5, 1864; lost all I have; my wife died December 18, 
1864. I was born in Hardin County, Kentucky, in 1709, May 15, on Nolan 
Creek near Elizabethtown. I was ten years older than Abraham and knew 
him intimately and well from the day of his birth to 1830; I was the 
second man who touched Lincoln after his birth, a custom in Kentucky 
then of running to greet the newborn babe. A man by the name of Hazel 
helped to teach Abraham his ABC, spelling, reading, and writing, etc, 
Lincoln went to school about three months with his sister,, all the educa- 
tion he had in Kentucky. Parson Elkin, a preacher of the old Baptist reli- 
gion, came to Mr. Thomas Lincoln and frequently preached in that neigh- 

At about the year 1818 Thomas Lincoln, the father of Abraham, had 
a notion in his head: formed a determination to sell out his place and 
move to Indiana, then a new State, where he could buy land as said be- 
fore at $1.25 per. He sold out to [undeciphered]. Mr. Lincoln got $300 
and took it, the $300, in whisky. The thirty-acre farm in Kentucky was as 
knotty, knobby as a piece of land could be, with deep hollows, ravines, 
cedar trees covering the parts, knolls, knobs as thick as trees could grow. 
Lincoln's house was in a hollow of a high, tall, and peaky hill and boarded 
with cedar. Stood up against the sky all around. Mr. Lincoln as stated 
before sold his farm for whisky. He cut down trees, made a kind of fiat- 
boat out of yellow poplar. He made the boat on the Rolling Fork at the 
mouth of Knob Creek, Hardin County, Kentucky, loaded his household 
furniture 3 his tools, whisky, and other effects, including pots, vessels, 
rifles, etc., etc., on the boat. He took no dogs, chickens, cats, geese, or 
other domestic animals. He floated on awhile down the Rolling Fork and 
upset and lost the most of the tools, etc., and some of his whisky. He 
went along by himself, not taking his family. From the Rolling Fork be 
ran into the Beach Fork and thence into the great Ohio, He landed at 
Thompson's Ferry at Posey's house or farm. He started out from the 
ferry in search of a place and found one and located it by making blazes, 
brush heaps, etc., to make a location, which he afterwards bought at 
$2*00 per acre, purchased it under the $2.00 act* This was an eighty-acre 
tract, and Mr. Lincoln, not being able to pay for it, lost his $80, which 
he paid to the government and which the government kept and has to- 
day. When he had cornered the land, blazed it off, marked the boundaries, 
he proceeded on horseback, with his own food and his horse's fodder 
behind him, to Vincennes, where he paid the $2.00 per acre as stated be- 
fore. Mr. Lincoln never owned the land, more than a kind of pre-emption 


right, and sold it when he moved to Illinois. I fared like him in all these 
particulars. He then returned to the State of Kentucky from Spencer 
County, Indiana, then Perry County, since divided as Hardin County, 
Kentucky, was, as Sangamon County. From the old homestead in Ken- 
tucky, Hardin, now LaRue County, Thomas Lincoln, Nancy father and 
mother of Sarah and Abe the two children, and two feather beds, cloth- 
ing, etc., mounted two horses and went back to Spencer County, then 
Perry County, Indiana, where said land was located on a little creek 
called Pigeon Creek, about north of the Ohio and about seventy miles 
northwest of Hardin County, Kentucky, and across and north of the Ohio, 
They had no wagons, no dogs, cats, hogs, cows, chickens, or suchlike do- 
mestic animals. Abe was at this time seven years of age. Abe read no books 
in Kentucky. Abe was a good boy, an affectionate one, a boy who loved 
his father and mother dearly and well, always minding them well. Some- 
times Abe was a little rude. When strangers would ride along and up to 
his father's fence, Abe always, through pride and to tease his father, 
would be sure to ask the stranger the first question, for which his father 
would sometimes knock him a rod. Abe was then a rude and forward boy. 
Abe, when whipped by his father, never balked, but dropped a kind of 
silent unwelcome tear, as evidence of his sensations or other feelings. 
The family landed at Thompson's Ferry on the Ohio and over the Ken- 
tucky side, crossed the Ohio, and landed at Posey's farm on the Indiana 
side. Hence seventeen miles northwest of the ferry. I went myself with 
them backwards and forwards to Indiana and back to Kentucky and back 
to Indiana, and know the story and all the facts well. We all started from 
Kentucky in September 1818 and was three or four days to the ferry and 
one day from the ferry out to the place of location. Here they stopped, 
camped, erected a little two-face camp open in front, serving a mo- 
mentary purpose. Lincoln saw a wild turkey near the camp on the sec- 
ond day after landing, and Mrs. Lincoln, Abe's good mother, loaded the 
gun. Abe poked the gun through the crack of the camp and accidentally 
killed one, which he brought to the camp house. Thomas Lincoln then went 
on getting trees for the logs of his house, cutting down the brush and 
underwood, Indiana then being a wilderness and wholly a timberous coun- 
try. I assisted him to do this, to cut timber, haul logs, etc., and helped 
him erect his log cabin, a camp, one story high, just high enough to stand 
under, no higher. This took only one day. Abe could do little jobs, such 
as carry water, go to the springs, branches, etc., by digging for water 
which was got by hills. This was a temporary affair. This was in 1818. 
We, Lincoln's family, including Sally and Abe and myself, slept and 


lodged in this cabin all winter and till next spring. We in the winter and 
spring cut down brush, underwood, trees, cleared ground, made a field 
of about six acres, on which we raised our crops. We all hunted pretty 
much all the time, especially so when we got tired of work, which was 
very often, I will assure you. We did not have to go more than four or 
five hundred yards to kill deer, turkeys, and other wild game. We found 
bee trees all over the forests. Wild game and meat were our food. We ate 
no wild locust, like John the Baptist. We had to go to the Ohio Biver 
seventeen miles to mill, and when we got there the mill was a poor con- 
cern; it was a little bit of hand horse mill, the ground meal of which a 
hand could eat as fast as it was ground. Yet this was a Godsend. The 
mill was close to Posey's. The country was wild, full of game, dense with 
vegetation, swampy. We could track a bear, deer, wolf, or Indian for 
miles through the wild matted pea vines. Indians, wild bears, wolves, 
deers, were plenty. We had no trouble with the Indians in Indiana; they 
soon left westward. In the fall and winter of 1819-20 we commenced to 
cut the trees, clear out the brush and underwoods and forest for our new 
grand old log cabin, which we erected that winter ; it was one story, eight- 
een by twenty feet, no passage, one window, no glass in it. The lights 
were made from the leaf coming off from the hog's fat. This was good 
and mellow light and lasted well, The house was sufficiently high to make 
a kind of bedroom overhead, a loft. This was approached by a kind of 
ladder made by boring holes in the logs forming [undeciphered] one side 
of the house, and this peg over peg we climbed aloft, the pegs creaking 
and screeching as we went. Here were the beds ; the floor of the loft was 
clapboards, and the beds lay on this. Here I and Abe slept, and I was 
married there to Abe's stepsister, Miss Elizabeth Johnston, not Johnson. 
During this fall Mrs, Lincoln was taken sick with what is known as 
the milk sickness ; she struggled on day by day, a good Christian woman, 
and died on the seventh day after she was taken sick. Abe and his sister 
did some work, little jobs, errands, and light work. There was no physi- 
cian nearer than thirty-five miles. She knew she was going to die and 
called the children to her dying side and told them to be good and kind 
to their father, to one another, and to the world, expressing a hop that 
they might live as they had been taught by her to love men, love, rev- 
erence, and worship God. Here in this rude house, of the milk sickness, 
died one of the very best women in the whole race, known for kindness, 
tenderness, charity, and love to the world. Mrs. Lincoln always taught 
Abe goodness, kindness, read the good Bible to him, taught him to read 
and to spell, taught him sweetness and benevolence as well. From this 


up to 1821 Mr. Lincoln lived single, Sarah cooking for us, she then be- 
ing about fourteen years of age. We still kept up hunting and farming it. 
Mr. Lincoln, Abe's father, was a cabinet-maker and house- joiner, etc.* 
he worked at this trade in the winter at odd times, farming it in the sum- 
mer. We always hunted; it made no difference what came,, for we more 
or less depended on it for a living, nay for life. We had not been long 
at the log cabin before we got the usual domestic animals, known to civ- 
ilization. These were driven out from near the Ohio River or hauled in 
a cart pulled by one yoke of oxen. Mrs. Lincoln was buried about one- 
fourth of a mile from the log cabin and the Baptist Church; the pastor 
was Lamon. Abraham learned to write so that we could understand it 
in 1821. David Elkin of Hardin County, Kentucky, called Parson Elkin, 
whose name has been mentioned before, paid a visit. I do not think Elkin 
came at the solicitation and letter writing of Abe, but came of his own 
accord or through the solicitation of the church to which Mr. Lincoln be- 
longed. Abe was now twelve years old. Elkin came over to Indiana in 
about one year after the death of Mrs. Elkin, and preached a funeral 
sermon on the death of Mrs. Lincoln. Parson Elkin was a good, true man 
and the best preacher and finest orator I ever heard. I have heard his 
words distinctly and clearly one-fourth of a mile. Some little time before 
this funeral service he, Thomas Lincoln, went to Kentucky and married 
Johnston, whose maiden name was Bush. When Thomas Lincoln married 
her, she had three children, two daughters and one son. The family came 
to Indiana with their stepfather and their mother. There was now five 
children in the family, Sarah and Abe Lincoln, Elizabeth, John D., and 
Mathilda Johnston. I married Elizabeth. I was just twenty-one; she was 
fifteen, Thomas Lincoln now hurried his farming, his calling and busi- 
ness, always remember hunting. Now at this time Abe was getting hungry 
for books, reading everything he could lay his hands on. The marriage 
of Thomas Lincoln and the widow Johnston was in 1821, Abraham being 
now twelve years old. Webster's old spelling book, the Life of Henry Clay, 
Robinson Crusoe, Weems's Life of Washington, JEsop's fables, Bunyan's 
Pilgrim** Progress I do not say that Lincoln read these books just 
then, but he did between this time and 1825. He was a constant and I 
may say stubborn reader, his father having sometimes to slash him for 
neglecting his work by reading. Mr. Lincoln, Abe's father, often said: 
"I had to pull the old sow up to the trough/* when speaking of Abe's 
reading and how he got to it then; and now he had to pull her away. 
From the time of the marriage of Thomas Lincoln and Mrs. Johnston, 
Mrs. Lincoln proved an excellent stepmother. When she came into In- 
diana, Abe and Ms sister was wild, ragged, and dirty, Mrs. Lincoln had 


been raised in Elizabethtown in somewhat a high life ; she soaped, rubbed, 
and washed the children clean, so that they looked pretty, neat, well, and 
clean. She sewed and mended their clothes, and the children once more 
looked human as their own good mother left them. Thomas Lincoln and 
Mrs. Lincoln never had any children, accident and nature stopping things 
short. From 1820 to 1825 Mr. Lincoln and Mrs. Lincoln each worked 
ahead at their own business; Thomas at farming, cabinet-making, hunt- 
ing; she at cooking, washing, sewing, weaving, etc., etc. About the year 
1825 or 1826 Abe borrowed, of Josiah Crawford, Ramsey's Life of Wash- 
ington, which got spoiled as specified generally in the President's life and 
paid as therein described: he pulled fodder at 25f per day to pay for 
it. He worked three or four days. Abe was then growing to be a man 
and about fifteen or sixteen years of age. He was then just the same boy 
in every particular that he subsequently exhibited to the world from 1831 
to the time of his death. At this early age he was more humorous than 
in after life, full of fun, wit, humor, and if he ever got a new story, new 
book, a new fact or idea, he never forgot it. He was honest, faithful, lov- 
ing truth, speaking it at all times, and never flinching therefrom. Physi- 
cally he was a stout, powerful boy, fat, round, plump, and well made as 
well as proportioned. This continued to be so up to the time he landed 
in Salem, Sangamon County. In 1825 or 1826 he then exhibited a love 
for poetry and wrote a piece of humorous rhyme on his friend Josiah 
Crawford that made all the neighbors, Crawford included, burst their 
sides with laughter. I had it ; was lost in the fire. He was humorous, funny, 
witty, and good-humored at all times. Sarah married a man Aaroa 
Grigsby; she married him in 1822 and died in about twelve months in 
childbirth. About 1826 and 7, myself and Abe went down to the Ohio and 
cut cordwood at 25# per cord and bought stuff to make each a shirt. We 
were proud of this. It must have been about this time that Abe got lacked 
by a horse in the mill, and who did not speak for several hoars and when 
he did speak, he ended the sentence which he commenced to the horse, as 
I am well informed and believe. From the last period 1825-26 and 7* 
Lincoln was constantly reading, writing, cipherfing] a little in Pike's 
Arithmetic. He excelled any boy I ever saw, putting his opportunities 
into conversation. He then some[how] had or got Barclay *s English Dic- 
tionary, a part of which I have now and which can be seen BOW at my 
house and which I am to give to W. H. Herndon of the city of Spring- 
field. During these years the sports of Mr. Lincoln were hunting, shoot- 
ing squirrels, jumping, wrestling, playing ball, throwing the mall over- 
head. The story about his carrying home a drunken man is not true aw 
I think or recollect. He was good enough and tender enough and kind 


enough to have saved any man from evil, wrong, difficulties, or damnation, 
Let him claim nothing but what is true. Truth and justice and mankind 
will make him the great of the world; he needs no fictions to hack him. 
Lincoln sometimes attempted to sing but always failed, but while this 
is true he was harmony and time and sound. He loved such music as he 
knew the words of. He was a tricky man and sometimes when he went 
to log-house raising, corn shucking, and suchlike things he would say 
to himself and sometimes to others : "I don't want these fellows to work 
any more," and instantly he would commence his pranks, tricks, jokes, 
stories, and sure enough all would stop, gather around Abe, and listen, 
sometimes crying and sometimes bursting their sides with laughter. He 
sometimes would mount a stump, chair, or box and make speeches 
stories and stories, anecdotes and suchlike things; he never failed here. 
At this time Abe was somewhat [undeciphered] he was now as wefl 
as before a kind of forward boy and sometimes forward too when he 
got stubborn; his nature went an entire revolution. One thing is true of 
him always was up to 1830 when our intimacy ended, because he went 
to Sangamon and I went to Coles County he was ambitious and de- 
termined, and when he attempted to excel man or boy his whole soul 
and his energies were bent on doing it, and he in this generally almost 
always accomplished his ends. From these years 1826 and '27 what has 
been said of other years is applicable up to 1830 working, chopping, 
toiling, woman, child, and man. The plays and sports were the same. 
In 1829 (March) Thomas Lincoln moved from Spencer County, Indiana, 
and landed in Macon County, Illinois, ten miles west of Decatur. In that 
spring and summer the log cabin which I now have on exhibition at the 
Sanitary Fair in Chicago was erected. Lincoln helped cut the logs; so 
did John Hanks. Abe hauled them and I hewed them all and raised it 
the next day we raised the cabin. Abraham and his neighbors had a mall 
railing party 1830, and he and they then split the rails to fence the ten 
acres of land which was done. In the spring and summer of 1830 the ten 
acres of land were broken up into the place. This was on the north fork 
of Sangamon River in Mercer County, Illinois. Lincoln was twenty years 
of [age] when he left Indiana, not twenty-one as said in the books. In 
the fall of 1830 he went down the Sangamon, he then being twenty-one 
years of age, with John Hanks in a boat of some kind. 

I now have told you all I recollect and think worthy of being told. I 
hope this will put history right, as I have taken time to reflect and to 
refresh my memory by conversations, times of well-authenticated date, by 
records, friends, and papers. All of which I do hereby certify to be troe 


in substance, time, and fact, knowing what is said to be true personally 
as I was an actor pretty much all my life in the scene. 

Your friend, 


Petersburg, IU. f June $7, 1865. 
Dear Sir: 

Yours of 21st came duly to hand. Have awaited an opportunity to see 
Capt. Wright in relation to Matheny's speech before replying. 

The article in the Missouri Republican in relation to Mr. Matheny's 
speech at this place in 1856 was written by Capt. Wright. Also an article 
in the Index of corresponding date. The articles excited considerable sen- 
sation at the time. They were not verbatim but substantially correct. I 
think I remember that before the publication of the article in the Index 
it was submitted to Matheny, and he endorsed the report of his remarks. 
The reports in the two papers very nearly correspond, and, I think, aside 
from party coloring, are correct in every particular. 

As to Mr. Lincoln's book on Infidelity, I gave you all my knowledge 
verbally. Since my early childhood I remember to have heard it alluded 
to hundreds of times by different old settlers. Of late years I have heard 
less of it, as these old men have many of them passed away, I have a 
bitter remembrance of it by my father's connection with it. You know 
that there are always some few things that strike into the mind of a child 
at early age which time will never eradicate. This is one of the circum- 
stances from which I date my earliest remembrance. It could not liave 
been on account of Lincoln's position, as at the time I knew no more as 
to who he was than I did of the inhabitants of the Fiji Islands. When I 
heard of my father having morally compelled Mr. Lincoln to bum the 
book, on account of its infamy, etc., pointing to Voltaire, Paine, etc,, the 
circumstance struck me so forcibly that I have never heard the words in- 
fidelity, Paine, or Voltaire since without thinking of iL My mother was 
strictly religious, and before hearing of this I had always thought my 
father to be averse to religion. I was so surprised that I suppose it made 
the deeper impression. As to date I do not know. It was in the winter 
time, as tradition says it was done in father's store, while there was fire in 
the stove, that there it was burned. 

Your friend, 



Petersburg, III., August 3, 1865. 
Dear Sir: 

On conversing with Mr. Short I have elicited the following additional 
facts in reference to Mr. Lincoln. 

Mr. L. used to tell Mr. S. the following anecdote of himself. Once, 
when Mr. L. was surveying, he was put to bed, in the same room with 
two girls, the head of his bed being next to the foot of the girls* bed. In 
the night he commenced tickling the feet of one of the girls with his fin- 
gers. As she seemed to enjoy it as much as he did, he then tickled a lit- 
tle higher up, and as he would tickle higher, the girl would shove down 
lower, and the higher he tickled the lower she moved. Mr. L. would tell 
the story with evident enjoyment. He never told how the thing ended. 

You can have the benefit of the above, even if your readers cannot. 

Mr. S. says Mr. L. was, in Salem times, an habitual reader of the St. 
Louis Republican and the Sangamon Journal. He used to read a great 
deal, improving every opportunity, by day and by night. I never knew 
of his reading a novel. History and poetry and the newspapers constituted 
the most of his reading. Burns seemed to be his favorite. L. had a copy 
of The American Military Biography, which he read a great deal. He 
read aloud very often, and frequently assumed a lounging position when 
reading. He read very thoroughly, and had a most wonderful memory. 
Would distinctly remember almost everything he read. Used to sit up 
late of nights reading, and would recommence in the morning when he 
got up. He was not an unusually early riser, at least it was not considered 
early for country habits, though for the city it would be very early. 

Mr. L. was very fond of honey. Whenever he went to S/s house he 
invariably asked his wife for some bread and honey. And he liked a great 
deal of bee bread in it. He never touched liquor of any kind. 

There was nothing of the joke about him. Whenever he went at any- 
thing he went at it to do it. Whenever he walked with me, he would keep 
me in a trot all the time. Always put things through in a hurry. Was a 
fast eater, though not a very hearty one. Didn't sleep very much as he 
always sat up late. 

He diin*t go to see the girls much. He didn't appear bashful, but it 
seemed as if he cared but little for them. Wasn't apt to take liberties 
wttfc ibem, tot would sometimes. He always liked lively, jovial company* 
wisere tihere was plenty of fun and no drunkenness, and would just as Bel 
tfee company were all mea as to have it a mixture of the sexes. He was 
agreeable in company and everybody liked him. Was always full of 


life and of fun, always cheerful, always bad a story to tell. Was very 
sociable and fond of visiting. Knew every man, woman, and child for 
miles around. Was very fond of children. Was fond of eats 3 would take 
and turn it on its back and talk to it for half an hour at a time. I 
never in my life saw him out of humor. He never got angry. Once when 
Major Hill was wrongly informed that Mr* L. had said something against 
his, H.'s, wlfe> the Major abused him a great deal for it ? talking to Mr. L. 
very roughly and insultingly. Mr. L. kept his temper, denied having said 
anything against her, told the Major that he had a very high opinion of 
her, and that if he knew anything in the world against her, it was the fact 
of her being his wife. 

Mr. L. was fond of wrestling, in which he excelled. 

Renewing the offer of my poor services, 

Yours truly, 


Janmary 4, 1868. 
Dear Sir: 

I received your letter of September 28, and also another of Decem- 
ber 15. 

I beg leave to be excused for not answering your Urst letter as I was 
very busy a-getting ready to start to Nelson County, Kentucky, to sw 
about my father's estate, and as you did not say anything about us wett- 
ing to you, we neglected, as we concluded that you had got aU the infor- 
mation that you wanted. There was one tiling tliat I did not think of tell- 
ing you, when you were here; that was: the place you were sitting c&i 
when you were here was a plank that Abraham Lincoln whipsawed about 
the year 18SG. 

We moved to tttis county in 1824, and soon after became acquainted 
with the Lincoln family. When Abraham was a strap of a boy and his 
playmates would fall out with Mm, he would laugh and make rhymes and 
sing them, and tell the boys that he intended to be Present yet, WMIe 
other boys would qparrel, he would appear to be a peacemaker; and wMk 
otters would romp and laugh, fee would be engaged m the Arithmetic, 0* 
asking questions about some history, iieard or read of. 

First Chronicles of Eenbem. (N&m flier* ** & m&n m iiose day * *A0* 
name ma* &ewbn f and fi mm* ww twf great t *l^tot^ m few#f 
and w&me and wmme, and m *wr$ &rm fe&mcMd, <m$ il 


that when the sons of Reuben grew up, that they were desirous of taking 
to themselves wives, and being too well known as to honor, in their own 
country, so they took to themselves a journey into a far country; and 
procured to themselves wives. And it came to pass that when they were 
about to make the return home, that they sent a messenger before them 
to bear the tidings to their parents; so, they inquired of the messengers, 
what their sons and their wives would come. So, they made a great feast 
and called all their kinsmen and neighbors in, and made great prepara- 
tions; so, when the time drew near, they sent out two men to meet the 
grooms and their wives with a treat to welcome them and to accompany' 
them; so, when they came near to the house of Reuben, their father, the 
messengers came on before them and gave a shout, and the whole mul- 
titude ran out with shouts of joy, and music playing on all kinds of in- 
struments of music, some playing on. harps, and some on viols, and some 
blowing on rams 9 horns, some casting dust and ashes toward Heaven; 
and amongst the rest Josiah blowing his bugle, making sound so great 
that it made the neighboring hills and valleys echo with the resounding 
acclamation; so when they had played and harped, sounded, till the grooms 
and brides approached the gate, the father, Reuben, met them and wel- 
comed them in to his house, and the wedding dinner being now ready, they 
were all invited to sit down to dinner. Placing the bridegrooms and their 
wives at each end of the table, waiters were then appointed to carve and 
wait on the guests; so, when they had all eaten, and were full and merry, 
they went out and sang and played till evening, and when they had made 
an end of feasting and rejoicing, the multitude dispersed, each to his own 
home; the family then took seats with their waiters to converse awhile, 
at which time preparations were being made in an upper chamber for the 
brides to be first conveyed by the waiters to their beds; this being done, 
the waiters took the two brides upstairs to their beds, placing one in a 
bed at the right hand of the stairs and the other on the left. The waiters 
came down f and Nancy the mother Inquired of the waiters, which of the 
brides was placed on the right hand and they told her. So, she gave direc- 
tions to the waiters of the bridegrooms, and then they took the bride- 
grooms and placed them in the wrong beds, and came downstairs; but 
the mother being fearful that there might be a mistake, inquired again 
of the waiters and learning the fact, took the light and sprang upstairs, 
and running to one of the beds exclaimed: Reuben! you are in bed with 
Charles's wife! The young men, both being alarmed, sprang out of bed 
and ran with such violence against each other, that they came very near 
knocking each other down, which gave evidence to those below that the 
mistake was certain. They all came down and had a conversation about 


who had made the mistake, but it could not be decided.') So ended the 

I will tell you a joke about Joel and Mary; it is neither a joke or a 
story, for Reuben and Charles had married two girls, but Billy has mar- 
ried a boy. 

The girls he had tried on every side 
But none could he get to agree; 
All was in vain, he went home again 
And since that, he is married to Natty. 

So Billy and Natty agreed very well; 

And mamma's well pleased at the match. 

The egg it is laid but Natty's afraid, 

The shell is so soft that it never will hatch. 

But Betsey, she said: "You cursed baldhead> 

My suitor you never can be; 

Besides, your low crotch proclaims you a botch 

And that never can answer for me." 

This memorized by Mrs. Elizabeth Crawford, an old blind lady, that 
can hardly see; written by her son and forwarded. 



January 8, 1866. 
Dear Sir: 

I have done as you requested me to do. I have written all of the Chron- 
icles of Reuben, and poetry that my old mother could memorize of Mr. 
Lincoln writing at the time he worked with her and father. At the time 
Mr. Lincoln wrote this, it appears that there was a little coolness existing 
between the two families. Mr. Lincoln not being invited to the great wed- 
ding feast, made use of a little of his novelty, in stating facts that did 

Reuben did go to bed with Charles's wife, and Charles to bed witib 
Reuben's wife. I took the Reuben's Chronicles to Gentryville and read 
them in public, R. D. Grigsby, being present, got very mad over it, 
Natty, who married Billy, being present, affirmed the same to be false. 

I am very anxious for one of the books of your great intended work. 

Yours truly, 




Edward$ville> January 31, 1866. 
Dear Sir: 

Yours enclosing a sketch of your lecture on the character of Mr. 
Lincoln is received and I must say that I think you have delineated him 
with great truth and force. You wish me to give you my views and recol- 
lections respecting him. Ever since his death I have been endeavoring to 
recall to mind his prominent twists of character and I must confess that 
the task is no easy one. Mr. Lincoln had but few peculiarities and hardly 
an eccentricity. His mind was made up of the traits which belong to man- 
kind generally. He was a remarkably temperate man, eschewing every 
indulgence, not so much, as it seemed to me, from principle as from a 
want of appetites. I never heard him declaim against the use of tobacco 
or other stimulants although he never indulged in them. He was genial 
but not very sociable. He did not seek company, but when he was in it, he 
was the most entertaining person I ever knew. He was once pressed into 
service to entertain Mr. Van Bur en at Rochester in your county and he 
succeeded to admiration. Mr. Lincoln was ambitious but not very aspiring. 
He was anxious to be in Congress, but I think he never aspired to any- 
thing higher until the prospect for the Presidency burst upon him. I am 
very sure that Mr. Lincoln was not aware of his own abilities or standing 
and that he never expected to attain a very marked distinction. In 1858 
he made a speech in this place and had an appointment for one next day 
at Greenville. I took him out in my buggy. On the way the principal sub- 
ject of conversation was the canvass he was conducting with Mr. Douglas. 
Knowing Lincoln's power of using anecdotes, I asked why he did not 
employ them in the discussion. He replied that he thought the occasion 
was too grave and serious. He said that the principal complaint he had 
to make against Mr. Douglas was his continual assumption of superiority 
on account of his elevated position. Mr. Lincoln's idea was that in the 
discussion of great questions nothing adventitious should be lugged in as 
a makeweight. That was contrary to his notions of fairness. His love of 
wealth was very weak. I asked him on the trip above spoken of how much 
land he owned. He said that the house and lot he lived on and one forty- 
acre tract was all the real estate he owned and that he got the forty for 
his services in the Black Hawk War. I inquired why he never speculated 
in land, and pointed to a tract that I had located with a land warrant 
which cost me ninety cents an acre. He said he had no capacity whatever 
for speculation and never attempted it. All the use Mr. Lincoln had for 
wealth was to, enable him to appear respectable. He never hoarded nor 


wasted but used money as he needed it and gave himself little or no con- 
cern about laying up. He was the most indulgent parent I ever knew. His 
children literally ran over him and he was powerless to withstand their 
importunities. He was remarkably tender of the feelings of others and 
never wantonly offended even the most despicable, although he was a man 
of great nerve when aroused. I have seen him on several occasions display 
great heroism when the circumstances seemed to demand it. He was very 
sensitive where he thought he had failed to come up to the expectations of 
his friends. I remember a case. He was pitted by the Whigs in 1840 to 
debate with Mr. Douglas, the Democratic champion. Lincoln did not come 
up to the requirements of the occasion. He was conscious of his failure 
and I never saw any man so much distressed. He begged to be permitted 
to try it again and was reluctantly indulged, and in the next effort he 
transcended our highest expectations. I never heard and never expect 
to hear such a triumphant vindication as he then gave of Whig measures 
on policy. He never often to my knowledge fell below himself. In re- 
ligious matters Mr. Lincoln was theoretically a predestinarian. His stern 
logic and perhaps early bias led him to that result. He was never ashamed 
of the poverty and obscurity of his early life. He was thoroughly master 
of all the phases of frontier life and woodscraft, and his most amusing 
stories consisted of incidents in his boyish days amongst his country play- 
fellows. He had a marvelous relish for everything of that sort and the 
happiest faculty of turning his numerous reminiscences to good account 
in illustration in after life. No man could tell a story as well as he could. 
He never missed the nib of an anecdote. He always maintained stoutly 
that the best stories originated with country boys and in the rural districts. 
He had great faith in the strong sense of country people and he gave them 
credit for greater intelligence than most men do. If he found an idea pre- 
vailing generally amongst them, he believed there was something in it, 
although it might not harmonize with science. He had great faith in the 
virtues of the mad stone, although he could give no reason for it and con- 
fessed that it looked like a superstition, but he said he found the people 
in the neighborhood of these stones fully impressed with a belief in their 
virtues from actual experiment and that was about as much as we could 
ever know of the properties of medicine. Mr. Lincoln had more respect 
for and confidence in the masses than any statesman this country has 
ever produced. He told me in the spring of 1864 that the people were 
greatly ahead of the politicians in their effort for and confidence in put- 
ting down the rebellion. He said the government had been driven by tfe 
public voice into the employment of means and the adoption of 
for carrying on the war which they would not have dared to put 



practice without such backing. He prized the suggestions of the unsophis- 
ticated people more than what was called statecraft or political wisdom. 
He really believed that the voice of the People in our emergency was 
next thing to the voice of God. He said he had no doubt whatever of our 
success in overthrowing the rebellion at the right time. God, he said, was 
with us and the people were behaving so nobly that all doubt had been 
removed from his mind as to our ultimate success. The army and the 
navy, he said, were in the right trim and in the right hands. He firmly 
believed that no people in ancient or modern times had evinced as much 
patriotism or such a self-sacrificing spirit as the loyal people of the 
United States. But Mr. Lincoln's love of justice and fair play was his 
predominating trait. I have often listened to him when I thought he would 
certainly state his case out of court. It was not in his nature to assume 
or attempt to bolster up a false position. He would abandon his case first. 
He did so in the case of Buckmaster or the use of Denham vs. Burns and 
Arthur in our Supreme Court in which I happened to be opposed to him. 
Another gentleman less fastidious took Mr. Lincoln's place and joined 
the case. In 1856 Mr. Lincoln had set his heart upon the United States 
Senate. There was a majority for the first time in the history of Illinois 
against the Democratic party in the Legislature. This result was mainly 
attributable to his efforts, and he was the first choice of all but five of 
the opposition members. I was a member and enthusiastically for Lincoln. 
We, his friends, regarded this as perhaps his last chance for that high 
position. There was danger, if we did not succeed in electing our man 
soon, that some of the members who had been elected as f ree-soilers would 
go over to Matteson and elect him. When the voting commenced to our 
amazement five of our men steadily refused to vote for Mr. Lincoln and 
threw their votes upon Judge TrumbuU. After several ballots I went to 
Mr. Lincoln and asked him what he thought we ought to do. He said un- 
hesitatingly: "You ought to drop me and go for TrumbuU. That is the 
only way you can defeat Matteson." Judge Logan came up about that 
time and insisted on running Lincoln still, but the latter said: "If you do, 
you wiU lose both TrumbuU and myself, and I think the cause in this case 
is to be preferred to men." We adopted his suggestion and turned upon 
TrumbuU and elected him. Although it grieved us to the heart to give 
up Mr. Lincoln, this, I think, shows that Mr. Lincoln was capable of 
sinking himself for the cause in which he was engaged. Mr. Lincoln's 
sense of justice was intensely strong. It was to this mainly that his hatred 
of slavery may be attributed. He abhorred the institution. It was about 
the only public question on which he would become excited. I recaU a 
meeting with him once at Shelbyville when he remarked that something 


must be done or slavery would overrun the whole country. He said there 
were about 600,000 non-slaveholding whites in Kentucky to about 33,000 
slaveholders; that in the convention there recently held it was expected 
that the delegates would represent these classes about in proportion to 
their respective numbers, but when the convention assembled there was 
not a single representative of the non-slaveholding class. Everyone was 
in the interest of the slaveholders and, said he : "This thing is spreading 
like wildfire over the country. In a few years we will be ready to accept 
the institution in Illinois, and the whole country will adopt it." I asked 
him to what he attributed the change that was going on in public opinion* 
He said he had put that question to a Kentuckian shortly before, who 
answered by saying: "You might have any amount of land, money in 
your pocket, or bank stock, and while traveling around nobody would be 
any the wiser ; but if you had a donkey trudging at your heels, every body- 
would see him and know that you owned slaves. It is the most glittering, 
ostentatious, and displaying property in the world; and now," says he, 
"if a young man goes courting, the only inquiry is how many Negroes he 
or she owns and not what other property they may have." The love for 
slave property was swallowing up every other mercenary passion. Its 
ownership betokened not only the possession of wealth but indicated the 
gentleman of leisure who was above and scorned labor. These things Mr. 
Lincoln regarded as highly seductive to the thoughtless and giddy-headed 
young men who looked upon work as vulgar and ungentlemanly. Mr. Lin- 
coln was really excited and said with great earnestness that this spirit 
ought to be met and if possible checked. That slavery was a great and 
crying injustice, an enormous national crime, and that we could not ex- 
pect to escape punishment for it. I asked him how he would proceed in 
his efforts to check the speed of slavery. He confessed that he did not 
see his way clearly. I think he made up his mind from that time that 
he would oppose slavery actively. I know that Mr. Lincoln always con- 
tended that no man had any right, other than mere brute force gave Mm, 
to a slave. He used to say that it was singular that the courts would hold 
that a man never lost his right to his property that bad been stolen from 
him but that he instantly lost his right to himself if he was stolen. Mr. 
Lincoln always contended that the cheapest way of getting rid of slavery 
was for the nation to buy the slaves and set them free. As you say, Mr. 
Lincoln could hardly be considered a genius, a poet, or an inventor, bu% 
he had the qualities of a reformer. He endeavored to bring back things to 
the old landmarks but he never would have attempted to invent and COHE^ 
pose new systems. He had boldness enough, when he found the building 
rocked and going to decay, to restore it to its original design, but not 


to contrive a new and distinct edifice. He believed that the framers of our 
government expected slavery to die out and adapted the system to that 
end but that their views were being frustrated by adventitious circum- 
stances by which we were surrounded and the political ideas which had 
begun to take root just before the Revolution than to any superior in- 
telligence or liberality on our part. He contended that we were more in- 
debted to our government than it was to us, and that we were not entitled 
to greater credit for our liberality of sentiment on political questions than 
others equally liberal who were born and raised under less favorable 
auspices. Mr. Lincoln never, I think, studied history except in connection 
with politics ; with the exception of the history of the Netherlands and of 
the revolutions of 1640 and 1688 in England and of our revolutionary 
struggle, he regarded it as of trifling value as teaching by example. Indeed 
he thought that history as generally written was altogether too unreliable. 
In this connection he alluded to the fact that General I. D. Henry, the 
most prominent figure in the Black Hawk War of 1832, was completely 
ignored by the historians. He also referred to the almost universal belief 
that a spirited passage at arms took place in Congress between Tristram 
Burgess and John Randolph when, as Mr. Lincoln said, he never be- 
lieved they had been in Congress together. 

The above is about all I can scrape up relating to Mr. Lincoln. If it 
is of any use to you, you are welcome to it. 

Your friend, 


February 21, 1866. 
Dear Sir: 

Your letter of the 5th came to hand in due time, and we should have 
answered it sooner, but our business has been so that we could not con- 
veniently have time. You wished me to tell you whether Abraham Lincoln 
ever made any pretensions of religion during his stay in this country. 
I never heard of his ever making any such pretensions. I don't think he 
ever did; though he seemed to be a well-wisher, he went to meeting some- 
times, and was well behaved. You also wished to know what songs he 
used to sing. I can't remember many of them. He used to sing one that 
was called "John Anderson's Lamentation/' and one that was called "Wil- 


Ham Riley/* and one that was made about General Jackson and John 
Adams, at the time they were nominated for the Presidency; though I 
can't memorize but very little of any of them. He sang but very little when 
he was about the house; he was not noisy. As to his jests or jokes, I can't 
recollect, though he had a good many. I will give you as much of his 
favorite songs as I can memorize, as follows: 

John Anderson's Lamentation 

sinners! poor sinners! take warning by me; 
The fruits of transgressing, behold now and see; 
My soul is tormented, my body confined; 

My friends and dear children left weeping behind. 

Much intoxication, my ruin has been; 
And my dear companions have barbarously slain, 
In yonder cold graveyard, her body doth lie, 
Whilst I am condemned, and shortly must die. 

Remember John Anderson's death and reform 
Before Death overtakes you and vengeance comes on. 
My griefs overwhelming, in God I must trust; 

1 am justly condemned, my sentence is just. 

I am waiting the summons, in eternity to be hurled; 
Whilst my poor little orphans are cast on the world* 
I hope my kind neighbors their guardians will be; 
And Heaven, kind Heaven, protect them and me. 

Mr. Herndon, I have given you as much of the above song as I could 

This was a favorite song of Abraham Lincoln's, 

Now I will give you a line or two of the Jackson song, that he used 
to sing, and then I will have to close as my eyes are so weak that I can't 
see the lines on the paper. 

Let auld acquaintance be forgot, 
And never brought to mind, 
And Jackson, he, our President; 
And Adams, left behind. 

Excuse bad writing, 



May 8, 1866. 
Dear Sir: 

Your letter of April 19 has come to hand and I was glad to hear that 
you were well pleased with what I had written. You wish me to tell you 
the names of some of our wild woods flowers. There is the wild sweet 
william, wild pink, lady slipper, wild roses, butterfly weed, wild honey- 
suckle, blue flag, yellow flag, and there is a great many other kinds, that 
I can't recollect the names of at this time. 

Now I will give you the names of some of the garden flowers that were 
cultivated in this country by the first settlers or nearly so, say in 1824- 
26 and on for several years, and some of them till this time. The sweet 
pink, the poppy, the marigold, the larkspur, the touch-me-not, the pretty- 
by-night, the lady-in-the-green, the sword lily, the flower bean, the holly- 
hock, the bachelor's button these buttons the girls used to string and 
hang them up in their houses for an ornament; they were very pretty, as 
there were white ones and red ones. The roses, the sweet or damask rose, 
the pinny, the old maid's eyes, the velvet pink, the mullen pink, the garden 
sweet williams, the Carolina pink. 

You wish me to tell you the names of some of the trees that grew in 
Spencer County. The black oak, the white oak, the poplar, the dogwood, 
the hickory, the sweet gum, the maple, the redbud, ash, and many other 
kinds. I will give you a few more of the names : the willow, box elder, the 
plum, the crab apple, the elm, the catalpa this is a beautiful tree when 
in full bloom; the wild plum is plentiful in places in this country. 

Well, now I will give you a part or all of a song that Abraham Lincoln 
used to sing, called it "Adam and Eve's Wedding Song." This song was 
sung at Abraham's sister's wedding. I do not know [whether] A. Lincoln 
composed this song or not. The first that I ever heard of it was, the Lin- 
coln family sung it. I rather think that A. L. composed it himself, but I 
am not certain. 

I know that he was in the habit of making songs, and singing of them. 
I do not wish to write anything but the truth; I have aimed at that all 
the time. I wish he had a true history, and hope to read a true one, when 
yours is done. 

"Adam and Eve's Wedding Song" as follows : 

When Adam 'was created, he dwelt in Eden's shade, 
As Moses lias recorded; and soon an Eve was made* 
Ten thousand times ten thousand 

I/ETTEB.S TO H E B, N D O N 295 

Of creatures swarmed around 
Before a bride was formed 
And yet no mate was found. 

The Lord then was not willing 
The man should be alone 
But caused a sleep upon him 
And took from him a bone. 

And closed the flesh in that place 
And then he took the same 
And of it made a woman 
And brought her to the man. 

Then Adam he rejoiced 
To see his loving bride, 
A part of his own body, 
The product of his side. 

This woman was not taken 
From Adam's feet we see, 
So he must not abuse her. 
The meaning seems to be. 

This woman was not taken 
From Adam's head, we know, 
To show she must not rule him; 
*Ti$ evidently so. 

This woman she was taken 
From under Adam's arm, 
So she must be protected 
From injuries and harm. 

Mr. Herndon, please excuse bad writing and mistakes as I am so blind 
that I can't see the lines on the paper. 



Chicago, July 17, 1866. 
Dear Sir: 

I received your letter today, asking me to write yon by Friday. Fear* 
ing, if I delay, you will not get it done in time, I will give you such hasty 


thoughts as may occur to me tonight. I have mislaid your second lecture, 
so that I have not read it at all, and have not read your first one since 
about the time it was published. What I shall say therefore will be based 
upon my own ideas rather than a review of the lectures. Lincoln's whole 
life was a calculation of the law of forces and ultimate results. The world 
to him was a question of cause and effect. He believed the results to which 
certain causes tended would surely follow. He did not believe that these 
results could be materially hastened or impeded. His whole political his- 
tory, especially since the agitation of the slavery question, has been based 
upon this theory. He believed from the first, I think, that the agitation of 
slavery would produce its overthrow, and he acted upon the result as 
though it was present from the beginning. His tactics were to get himself 
in the right place and remain there still until events would find him in 
that place. This course of action led him to say and do things which could 
not be understood when considered in reference to the immediate sur- 
roundings in which they were done or said. You will remember in his cam- 
paign against Douglas in 1858 the first ten lines of the first speech he made 
defeated him. The sentiment of the "house divided against itself" seemed 
wholly inappropriate. It was a speech made at the commencement of a 
campaign and apparently made for the campaign. Viewing it in this light 
alone, nothing could have been more unfortunate or inappropriate. It 
was saying just the wrong thing, yet he saw it was an abstract truth, 
and standing by the speech would ultimately find him in the right place. 
I was inclined at the time to believe these words were hastily and in- 
considerately uttered, but subsequent facts have convinced me they were 
deliberate and had been matured. Judge T. L. Dickey says that at Bloom- 
ington at the first Republican Convention in 1856 he uttered the same 
sentences in a speech delivered there, and that after the meeting was over, 
he Dickey called his attention to these remarks. Lincoln justified him- 
self in making them by stating they were true, but finally at Dickey's 
urgent request he promised that for his sake or upon his advice he would 
not repeat them. In the summer of 1859, when he was driving with a party 
of his intimate friends at Bloomington, the subject of his Springfield 
speech was discussed. We all insisted it was a great mistake, but he justi- 
fied himself and finally said: "Well, gentlemen, you may think that speech 
was a mistake, but I never have believed it was, and you will see the 
day when you will consider it was the wisest thing I ever said." He never 
believed in political combinations, he never believed any class of men 
could accomplish in politics any particular given purpose, and conse- 
quently whether an individual man or class of men supported or opposed 
made any difference in his feelings or his opinions of his own 


success. If he was elected, he seemed to believe that no person or class 
of persons could ever have defeated him, and if defeated, he believed 
nothing could ever have elected him. Hence when he was a candidate he 
never wanted anything done for him. He seemed to want to let the whole 
question alone, and for everybody else to do the same. I remember after 
the Chicago Convention, when a great portion of the East were known 
to be dissatisfied at his nomination, when fierce conflicts were going on 
in New York and Pennsylvania, and when great exertions seemed requi- 
site to harmonize and mold in concert the action of our friends, Lincoln 
always seemed to oppose all efforts made in that direction. I arranged 
with Mr. Thurlow Weed after the Chicago Convention to meet him at 
Springfield. I was present at the interview, but he said nothing. It was 
proposed that Judge Davis should go to New York and Pennsylvania to 
survey the field and see what was necessary to be done. Lincoln consented, 
but it was always my opinion that he consented reluctantly. He said that 
the pressure of a campaign was an external force coercing the party into 
unity. If it failed to produce that result, he believed any individual effort 
would also fail. If the desired result followed, he considered it attribu- 
table to the great cause and not aided by the lesser ones. He sat down 
in his chair at Springfield and made himself the Mecca to which all poli- 
ticians made pilgrimages. He told them all a story, said nothing, and 
sent them away. All his efforts to procure a second nomination were in 
the same direction. I believe he earnestly desired that nomination. He 
was much more eager for it than he was for the first one, and yet from 
the first he discouraged all efforts on the part of his friends to obtain 
it. From the middle of his first term all his adversaries were busy at and 
for themselves. Chase had then a few secret societies and an immense 
patronage extending all over the country, Fremont was constantly at work, 
yet Lincoln would never do anything either to hinder them or to help 
himself. He was considered too conservative and his adversaries were try- 
ing to outstrip him in satisfying the radical element. I had a conversa- 
tion with him upon this subject in October 1863 and tried to induce him 
to recommend in his annual message the constitutional amendment abol- 
ishing slavery. I told him I was not very radical but I believed the results 
of this war would be the extermination of slavery; that Congress would 
pass the resolution and that it was proper at that time to be done. I 
told him, if he took that stand, it was an outside position and no one could 
maintain himself upon any measure more radical, and if he failed to take 
the position, his rivals would. Turning to me suddenly he said: "Is not 
that question doing well enough now?" I replied that it was. "Well," said 
he, "I have never done an official act with a view to promote my own 


personal aggrandizement and I don't like to begin now. I can see that 
time coming whoever can wait for it will see it whoever stands in its 
way will be run over by it." His rivals were using money profusely. Jour- 
nals and influences were being subsidized against him. I accidentally 
learned that a Washington newspaper through a purchase of the establish- 
ment was to be turned against him, and consulted him about taking steps 
to prevent it. The only thing I could get him to say was that he would 
regret to see the paper turned against him. Whatever was done had to 
be done without his knowledge. Bennett with his paper, you know, is a 
power. The old fellow wanted to be noticed by Lincoln and he wanted 
to support him. A friend of his who was certainly in his secrets . . . 
came over to Washington and intimated, if Lincoln would invite Bennett 
to come over and chat with him, his paper would be all right. Bennett 
wanted nothing. He simply wanted to be noticed. Lincoln in talking about 
it said: "I understood it. Bennett has made a great deal of money some 
say not very properly now he wants me to make him respectable. I have 
never invited Mr. Bryant or Mr. Greeley here. I shall not therefore es- 
pecially invite Mr. Bennett." All Lincoln would say was that he was 
receiving everybody, and he should receive Mr. Bennett if he came. Not- 
withstanding his entire inaction he never for a moment doubted his sec- 
ond nomination. One time in his room, disputing as to who his real friends 
were, he told me if I would not show it he would make a list of how 
the Senate stood when he got through. I pointed out some five or six 
that I told him I knew he was mistaken in. Said he: "You may think 
so, but you keep that until the Convention and tell me then whether I was 
right/' He was right to a man. He kept a kind of account book of how 
things were progressing for a few months, and whenever I would get 
nervous and think things were going wrong, he would get out his estimates 
and show how everything in the great scale of action, the resolutions of 
legislatures, the instructions of delegates, and things of that character, 
was going exactly as he expected. These facts with many others of a 
kindred nature have convinced me that he managed his politics upon a 
plan entirely different from any other man the country has ever produced. 
It was by ignoring men and ignoring all small causes but by closely calcu- 
lating the tendencies of events and the great forces which were producing 
logical results. In his conduct of the war he acted upon the tteory that but 
one thing was necessary, and that was a united North. He had all shades 
f sentiments and opinions to deal with, and the consideration was al- 
ways presented to his mind: How can I hold these discordant elements 
together ? Hence in dealing with men he was a trimmer and such a trim- 
mer the world has never seen. Halifax, who was great in his day as a 


trimmer, would blush by the side of Lincoln, yet Lincoln never trimmed 
in principles. It was only in his conduct with men. He used the patronage 
of his office to feed the hunger of these various factions. Weed always 
declared that he kept a regular account book of his appointments in New 
York, dividing the various titbits of favor so as to give each faction more 
than it could get from any other source, yet never enough to satisfy its 
appetite. They all had access to him, they all received favors from him, 
and they all complained of ill-treatment, but while unsatisfied they all 
had 'large expectations" and saw in him the chance of getting more than 
from anyone else they were sure of getting in his place. He used every 
force to the best possible advantage. He never wasted anything and was 
always giving more to his enemies than he would to his friends, and the 
reason was because he never had anything to spare, and in the close calcu- 
lation of attaching the factions to him he counted upon the abstract af- 
fection of his friends as an element to be offset against some gift with 
which he must appease his enemies. Hence there was always some truth 
in the charge of his friends that he failed to reciprocate their devotion 
with his favors. The reason was that he had only just so much to give 
away. He always had more horses than oats. An adhesion of all forces 
was indispensable to his success and the success of the country. Hence he 
husbanded his means with a nicety of calculation. Adhesion was what 
he wanted. If he got it gratuitously, he never wasted his substance paying 
for it. His love of the ludicrous was not the least peculiar of his char- 
acteristics. His love of fun made him overlook everything else but the 
point of the joke sought after. If he told a good story that was refined 
and had a sharp point, he did not like it any the better because it was 
refined. If it was outrageously low and dirty, he never seemed to see that 
part of it. If it had the sharp ring of wit, nothing ever reached him but 
the wit. Almost any man that would tell a very vulgar story has got in a 
degree a vulgar mind, but it was not so with him. With all his purity of 
character and exalted morality and sensibility, which no man can doubt, 
when hunting for wit he had no ability to discriminate between the vulgar 
and the refined substances from which he extracted it. It was the wit he 
was after, the pure jewel, and he would pick it up out of the mud or dirt 
just as readily as he would from a parlor table. He had very great kind- 
ness of heart. His mind was full of tender sensibilities. He was extremely 
humane, yet, while these attributes were fully developed in his char- 
acter and, unless intercepted by his judgment, controlled him, they never 
did control him contrary to his judgment. He would strain a point to be 
kind, but he never strained to breaking. Most men of much kindly feeling 
are controlled by this sentiment against their judgment, or rather that 


sentiment beclouds their judgment. It was never so with him. He would 
be just as kind and generous as his judgment would let him be no more. 
If he ever deviated from this rule, it was to save life. He would some- 
times, I think, do things he knew to be impolite and wrong to save some 
poor fellow's neck. I remember one day being in his room when he was 
sitting at his table with a large pile of papers before him. After a pleas- 
ant talk, he turned quite abruptly and said: "Get out of the way, Swett; 
tomorrow is bulletin day and I must go through these papers and see if 
I cannot find some excuse to let this poor fellow off/' The pile of papers 
he had were the records of courts martial of men who on the following 
day were to be shot. He was not examining the records to see whether the 
evidence sustained the finding. He was purposely in search of occasions 
to evade the law in favor of life. I was one time begging for the life of 
a poor [fellow]. It was an outrageously bad case, I confessed I was 
simply begging. After sitting with his head down while I was talking, 
he interrupted me, saying: "Grant never executed a man, did he?" I have 
been watching that thing. Some of Lincoln's friends have insisted that 
he lacked the strong attributes of personal affection which he ought to 
have exhibited. I think this is a mistake. Lincoln had too much justice to 
run a great government for a few favorites, and the complaints against 
him in this regard when properly digested amount to this and no more: 
that he would not abuse the privileges of his situation. He was certainly 
a very poor hater; he never judged men by his like or dislike for them. 
If any given act was to be performed, he could understand that his 
enemy could do it just as well as anyone. If a man had maligned him or 
been guilty of personal ill-treatment and abuse and was the fittest man 
for the place, he would put him in his Cabinet as he would his friend. 
I do not think he ever removed a man because he was his enemy or be- 
cause he disliked him. The great secret of his power as an orator, in my 
judgment, lay in the clearness and the perspicuity of his statements. 
When Lincoln had stated a case, it was always more than half argued 
and the point more than half even. The first impression he generally 
conveyed was that he had stated the case of his adversary better and 
more forcibly than his opponent could state it himself. He then answered 
that state of facts fairly and fully, never passing by or skipping over a 
bad point. When this was done he presented his own case. There was a 
feeling, where he argued a case, in the mind of every man who listened 
to him, that nothing had been passed over; yet if he could not answer the 
objections he argued in his own mind, and himself arrive at the con- 
clusion to which he was leading others,, he had very little power of argu- 
mentation. The force of his logic was in conveying to the minds of others 


the same clear and thorough analysis he had in his own, and if his own 
mind failed to be satisfied, he had no power to satisfy anybody else. His 
mode and force of argument was in stating how he had reasoned upon 
the subject and how he had come to his conclusion rather than original 
reasoning to the hearer; and as the mind of the listener followed in the 
groove of his mind, his conclusions were adopted. He never made a 
sophistical argument in his life and never could make one. I think he 
was of less real aid in trying a thoroughly bad case than any man I was 
ever associated with. If he could not grasp the whole case and master it, 
he was never inclined to touch it. From the commencement of his life 
to its close I have sometimes doubted whether he ever asked anybody's 
advice about anything. He would listen to everybody, he could hear every- 
body, but he never asked for opinions. I never knew him in trying a law- 
suit to ask the advice of any lawyer he was associated with. As a politician 
and as President he arrived at all his conclusions from his own reflections, 
and when his opinion was once founded, he never had any doubt but 
what it was right. You ask me whether he changed his religious opinions 
toward the close of his life. I think not; as he became involved in mat- 
ters of the gravest importance, full of great responsibility and great 
doubt, the feeling of religious reverence and belief in God, His justice 
and surrounding power, increased upon him. He was full of natural re- 
ligion. He believed God as the most approved church member, by the 
same system of great generalizations as of everything else. He had in my 
judgment very little faith in ceremonials and forms; whether he went to 
church over a month or over a year troubled him very little. He failed 
to observe the Sabbath very scrupulously. I think he read Petroleum V. 
Nasby as much as he did the Bible. He would ridicule the Puritans and 
swear in a moment of vexation, but yet his heart was full of natural and 
cultivated religion. He believed in the great laws of truth, the rigid dis- 
charge of duty and his accountability to God, the ultimate triumph of 
right and the overthrow of wrong. If his religion were to be judged by 
the line and rule of church creeds and unexceptionable language, he would 
fall far short of the standard, but if by the higher rule of the purity of 
conduct, of honesty of motive, of unyielding fidelity to the right, and ac- 
knowledging God as the Supreme Ruler, then he filled all the require- 
ments of true devotion and love of his neighbor as himself. One great 
public mistake by his character as generally received and acquiesced in: 
he is considered by the people of this country as a frank, guileless, un- 
sophisticated man. There never was a greater mistake ! Beneath a smooth 
surface of candor and apparent declaration of all his thoughts and feel- 
ings, he exercised the most exalted tact and the wisest discrimination. He 


handled and moved man remotely as we do pieces upon a chessboard. He 
retained through life all the friends he ever had, and he made the wrath 
of his enemies to praise him. This was not by cunning or intrigue in the 
low acceptation of the term, but by far-seeing reason and discernment. 
He always told enough only of his plans and purposes to induce the be- 
lief that he communicated all, yet he reserved enough to have communi- 
cated nothing. He told all that was unimportant with a gushing frank- 
ness, yet no man ever kept his real purposes or penetrated the future 
further with his deep designs. I wish I had time to add some things and 
in the whole to make this shorter and better, but I have not. I shall try 
if desirable to give you parts from time to time, but you will please re- 
member they are confidential. 

Yours truly, 


Weston, Mo., July 22, 1866. 
Dear Sir: 

I do not think you pertinacious in asking the question, relative to old 
Mrs. Bowling Green, because I wish to set you right on that subject. 
Your information, no doubt, came through my cousin Mr Gaines Green, 
who visited us last winter. Whilst here he was laughing at me about Mr. 
Lincoln, and among other things spoke of the circumstance, in connec- 
tion with Mrs. Green and child. My impression is now that I tacitly ad- 
mitted it (for it was a season of trouble with me), and I gave but little 
heed to the whole matter. We never had any hard feelings towards each 
other that I knew of. On one occasion did I say to Mr. L. that I did not 
believe he would make a kind husband, because he did not tender his 
services to Mrs. Green in helping her carry her babe. As I said to you 
in a former letter, I thought him lacking in smaller attentions. 

One circumstance presents itself just now to my mind's eye. There was a 
company of us going to Uncle Billy Green's; Mr. L. was riding with 
me, and we had a very bad branch to cross; the other gentlemen were 
very officious in seeing that their partners got over safely ; we were behind, 
he riding on, never looking back to see how I got along ; when I rode up 
beside him, I remarked: "You are a nice fellow; I suppose you did not 
care whether my neck was broken or not/* He laughingly replied (I 
suppose by way of compliment) that he knew I was plenty smart to 
take care of myself. In many things he was sensitive, almost to a fault. 


He told me of an incident: that he was crossing a prairie one day, and 
saw before him a hog mired down, to use his own language ; he was rather 
fixed up and he resolved that he would pass on without looking towards 
the shoat; after he had gone by, he said, the feeling was irresistible and 
he had to look back, and the poor thing seemed to say so wistfully: There, 
now! my last hope is gone, that he deliberately got down and relieved it 
from its difficulty. 

In many things we were congenial spirits. In politics we saw eye to 
eye, though since then we have differed as widely as the South is from 
the North. But methinks I hear you say : Save me from a political woman! 
So say I. The last message I ever received from him was about a year 
after we parted in Illinois. Mrs. Able visited Kentucky and he said to 
her in Springfield: "Tell your sister that I think she was a great fool be- 
cause she did not stay here and marry me." 

Characteristic of the man. 

Respectfully yours, 


Beardstown, III., August 22, 1866. 
Dear Sir: 

In the case of the People vs. William Armstrong, I was assistant prose- 
cuting counsel. The prevailing belief at that time (and I may also say at 
the present) in Cass County was as follows. Mr. Lincoln^ previous to 
trial, handed an almanac of the year previous to the murder, to an officer 
of court, stating that he might call for one during the trial, and if he 
did, to send him that one. An important witness for the People had fixed 
the time of the murder to be in the night near a camp meeting, that "the 
moon was about in the same place that the sun would be at ten o'clock 
in the morning and was nearly full" ; therefore he could see plainly, etc. 
At the proper time Mr. Lincoln called to the officer for an almanac, and 
the one prepared for the occasion was shown by Mr. Lincoln, he reading 
from it that, at the time referred to by the witness, the moon had already 
set. That, in the roar of laughter following, the jury and opposing counsel 
neglected to look at the date. Mr. Carter, a lawyer of this city who was 
present at, but not engaged in, the Armstrong case, says he is satisfied 
that the almanac was of the year previous, and thinks he examined it at 
the time. This was the general impression in the courtroom. I have called 
on the sheriff who officiated at that time, James A. Dick, who says that 


he saw a Goudy's Almanac laying upon Mr. Lincoln's table during the 
trial, and that Mr. Lincoln took it out of his own pocket. Mr. Dick does 
not know the date of it. I have seen several of the petit jurymen who sat 
upon the case who only recollect that the almanac floored the witness. 
But one of the jury, the foreman,, Mr. Milton Logan, says that the al- 
manac was a Jayne's Almanac, that it was the one for the year in which 
the murder was committed, and that there was no trick about it, that 
he is willing to make- an affidavit that he examined it as to its date and 
that it was the almanac of the year of the murder. My own opinion is 
that, when an almanac was called for by Mr, Lincoln, two were brought, 
one of the year of the murder and the other of the year previous; that 
Mr. Lincoln was entirely innocent of any deception in the matter. I the 
more think this from the fact that Armstrong was not cleared by any 
want of testimony against him, but by the irresistible appeal of Mr. Lin- 
coln in his favor. He told the jury of his once being a poor, friendless 
boy, that Armstrong's father took him into his house, fed and clothed 
him and gave him a home, etc., the particulars of which were told so 
pathetically that the jury forgot the guilt of the boy in their admiration 
of the father. 

It was generally admitted that Lincoln's speech and personal appeal 
to the jury saved Armstrong. Mr. James Taylor (now a resident of 
Springfield) was clerk of the circuit court of Cass County at that time. 
By calling upon him, you can probably get his description of the affair. 

The murder occurred, I think, in 1857. He was indicted in Mason 
County, and a change of venue to this county. At the November term, 
1857, of Cass Circuit Court, Mr. Lincoln labored hard to get Armstrong 
admitted to bail, but his motion was overruled. The trial and acquittal 
occurred at the May term, 1858. 

Yours respectfully, 


Beardstotun, III., September 5, 1866. 
Dear Sir: 

Six of the seven interrogatories propounded by you in yours of the 1st 
inst. have relation to a motion for a writ of habeas corpus in the Arm- 
strong case. In reply, I would say that I have no recollection of there hav- 


ing been an effort made for a habeas corpus in that case. I went to the 
record and also searched all the papers in the case, but nothing can be 
found intimating that such a motion was made. It is not usual, or at 
least necessary, that the papers connected with such a motion be filed 
with the indictment, and possibly by writing to Judge Harriott at Pekin 
you might find the facts in the case. My impression is that no such mo- 
tion was made. My recollections of that trial are rather good, from the 
fact that I was with Mr. Lincoln a great deal of the time during both 
of the terms in which the Armstrong case was pending. My connection 
with him during those terms was as follows: 

Not knowing that he was intending to attend our November term, 1857, 
I wrote to him that I wished his assistance for defendant in the case 
of Ruth A. Gill ttt, Jonathan Gill at that term, which was a suit for 
custody of child and alimony. He came down, I then supposed, exclu- 
sively to attend to that case. The question of divorce was left for a jury, 
who brought in a verdict for complainant, who also got the custody of the 
child, but the question of alimony, the most important point in that case, 
was left open until the next term of court. At this term, November 1857, 
Mr. Lincoln argued the motion in the Armstrong case to admit to bail, 
which was overruled. At the May term I expected Mr. Lincoln down to 
assist in the alimony case again, and he came in due time, called at my 
office, and said I had been suing some of his clients, and he had come 
down to attend to it. He then had reference to a new chancery case 
entitled "George Moore vs. Christina Moore and the heirs of Peter 
Moore" for a specific performance, the defendants all living near Spring- 
field. I explained the case to him, and showed him my proofs. He seemed 
surprised that I should deal so frankly with him and said he should be 
as frank with me, that my client was justly entitled to a decree, and he 
should so represent it to the court, that it was against his principles to 
contest a clear matter of right. So my client got a deed for a farm, which, 
had another lawyer been in Mr. Lincoln's place, would have been liti- 
gated for years, with a big pile of costs, and the result probably the same. 
Mr. Lincoln's character for professional honor stood very high. He 
never vexed an opponent, but frequently threw him off his guard by his 
irresistible good humor. But I digress I still thought that Mr. Lincoln 
had come to our court more particularly to attend to the Gill and Moore 
cases, and was very much surprised afterwards to see the immense interest 
he took in the Armstrong case. He went into it like a Giant. The evidence 
bore heavily upon his client. There were many witnesses, and each one 
seemed to add one more cord that seemed to bind him down, till Mr. Lin- 


coin was something in the situation of Gulliver after his first sleep in 
Lilliput. But when he came to talk to the jury (that was always his forte) 
he resembled Gulliver again; he skillfully untied here and there a knot 
and loosened here and there a peg, until, getting fairly warmed up, he 
raised himself in his full power and shook the arguments of his opponents 
from him as though they were cobwebs. He took the jury by storm. There 
were tears in Mr. Lincoln's eyes while he spoke. But they were genuine. 
His sympathies were fully enlisted in favor of the young man, and his 
terrible sincerity could not help but arouse the same passion in the jury. 
I have said it a hundred times, that it was Lincoln's speech that saved 
that criminal from the gallows, and neither money or fame inspired that 
speech, but it was incited by gratitude to the young man's father, who, 
as Mr. Lincoln said, "was his only friend when he was a poor homeless 
boy." These are the only facts which I now recollect occurring at our 
court worthy of your notice concerning that case. I might say, however, 
as part of the previous history of the case, that the indictment was found 
at the October term, 1857, of the Mason Circuit Court, against James 
H. Norris and William Armstrong. The indictment charges that on the 
29th day of August 1857 they murdered James Preston Metzker Norris 
striking him on the back of the head with a club and Armstrong striking 
hi m in the right eye with a slingshot. Norris was tried at the October 
term, 1857, Mason Circuit Court, found guilty of manslaughter, and sent 
up for eight years. Dilworth and Campbell were council for Norris. 

At the October term, 1857, Mason County, William Walker appeared 
as counsel for Armstrong, and made two motions, one to quash the indict- 
ment, which was overruled; the other to discharge the prisoner, which 
was withdrawn. 

At the close of the trial of Armstrong in the Cass Circuit Court Mr. 
Lincoln had possession of the slingshot with which it was shown Arm- 
strong killed Metzker. He, Mr. L., handed it to me, saying: "Here, Henry, 
I'll give you this to remember me by." 

I have that same slingshot now. It was made by Armstrong for the 
occasion. He took a common bar of pig lead, pounded it round, about 
the size of a large hickory nut, then cut a piece of leather out of the top 
of one of his boots, and with a thread and needle he sewed it into the 
shape of a slingshot, and thus improvised in a few minutes a very fatal 
weapon. If I can be of any other assistance to you in your worthy under- 
taking, shall be at your service. 

Yours respectfully, 



Legation of the United States, Paris, September 5, 1866. 
My dear Mr. Herndon: 

I am so constantly busy that I have had no quiet day in which to write 
yon what you desired in your letter several months ago. I have been 
charge d'affaires nearly all summer, my day filled with official business 
and my night with social engagements equally imperative. Even now, I 
write because I am ashamed to wait any longer and have a few minutes 
disposable. I will answer your questions as you put them without any 
attempt at arrangement. 

Lincoln used to go to bed ordinarily from ten to eleven o'clock unless 
he happened to be kept up by important news, in which case he would fre- 
quently remain at the War Department until one or two. He rose early, 
When he lived in the country at Soldiers' Home, he would be up and 
dressed, eat his breakfast (which was extremely frugal an egg, a piece 
of toast, coffee, etc.), and ride into Washington, all before eight o'clock 
In the winter at the White House he was not quite so early. He did not 
sleep very well but spent a good while in bed. Tad usually slept with 
him. He would lie around the office until he fell asleep and Lincoln would 
shoulder him and take him off to bed. 

He pretended to begin business at ten o'clock in the morning, but in 
reality the anterooms and halls were full before that hour people 
anxious to get the first ax ground. He was extremely unmethodical: it 
was a four years* struggle on Nicolay's part and mine to get him to adopt 
some systematic rules. He would break through every regulation as fast 
as it was made. 

Anything that kept the people themselves away from him he disap- 
proved although they nearly annoyed the life out of him by "unreason- 
able complaints and requests. 

He wrote very few letters. He did not read one in fifty that he re- 
ceived. At first we tried to bring them to his notice, but at last he gave 
the whole thing over to me, and signed without reading them the letters 
I wrote in his name. He wrote perhaps half a dozen & week himself, not 

Nicolay received members of Congress, and other visitors who had busi- 
ness with the Executive Office, communicated to the Senate and House 
the messages of the President, and exercised a general supervision over 
the business- 


I opened and read the letters, answered them, looked over the news- 
papers, supervised the clerks who kept the records, and in Nicolay's ab- 
sence did his work also. 

When the President had any rather delicate matter to manage at a 
distance from Washington, he very rarely wrote, but sent Nicolay or me. 

The House remained full of people nearly all day. At noon the Presi- 
dent took a little lunch a biscuit, a glass of milk in winter, some fruit 
or grapes in summer. He dined at from five to six and we went off to our 
dinner also. 

Before dinner was over, members and Senators would come back and 
take up the whole evening. Sometimes, though rarely, he shut himself up 
and would see no one. Sometimes he would run away to a lecture or con- 
cert or theater for the sake of a little rest. 

He was very abstemious, ate less than anyone I know. Drank nothing 
but water, not from principle, but because he did not like wine or spirits. 
Once in rather dark days early in the war, a Temperance Committee 
came to him and said the reason we did not win was because our army 
drank so much whisky as to bring down the curse of the Lord upon 
them. He said dryly that it was rather unfair on the part of the afore- 
said curse, as the other side drank more and worse whisky than ours did. 

He read very little. Scarcely ever looked into a newspaper unless I 
called his attention to an article on some special subject. He frequently 
said: "I know more about that than any of them/' It is absurd to call 
him a modest man. No great man was ever modest. It was his intellectual 
arrogance and unconscious assumption of superiority that men like Chase 
and Sumner never could forgive. 

I can't write any more today. I may see you before long I don't know 
and so I won't waste time by telling you what you must know as well 
as I do. 

I believe Lincoln is well understood by the people. Miss Nancy Ban- 
croft and the rest of that patent-leather kid-glove set know no more of 
him than an owl does of a comet blazing into his blinking eyes. 

Bancroft's address was a disgraceful exhibition of ignorance and prej- 
udice. His effeminate nature shrinks instinctively from the contact of a 
great reality like Lincoln's character. 

I consider Lincoln Republicanism incarnate, with all its faults and all 
its virtues. As, in spite of some evidences, Republicanism is the sole hope 
of a sick world, so Lincoln, with all his foibles, is the greatest character 
since Christ. 




Clerk's Office of the Circuit Court of Madison County, III, 

Edwardsville, September 19, 1866. 
Dear Sir: 

Yours of the 10th is received in reply to which I have to say that I 
only remember the general run of the events connected with the Sena- 
torial election in 1854 in which Mr. Lincoln and Mr. Trumbull were 
candidates and in which Trumbull succeeded. We held a caucus in which 
all but five of the opponents of the pro-slavery Democracy were present 
and at which Lincoln was selected as our candidate when the Houses met 
in joint convention. Those five, to wit: Judd of Cook, Cook of LaSalle, 
Palmer of Macoupin, and Allen and Baker of Madison, voted for Trum- 
bull while the rest of us voted for Mr. Lincoln. The reason they gave, 
according to my recollection, for voting for Trumbull was that, having 
been elected as Democrats, they could not vote for anyone but a Demo- 
crat for United States Senator. I tried hard to persuade them to go with 
us. They stated that they had no objection to Mr. Lincoln except his 
political antecedents, but that they could not sustain themselves at home 
if they were to vote for him, but expressed regret that they were so cir- 
cumstanced. After a number of ballots I asked Mr. Lincoln what he would 
advise us to do, when he said promptly: "I would go for Trumbull by all 
means." We understood the case to be that Shields was to be run by the 
Democrats at first and was then to be dropped and Joel A. Matteson put 
up, and it was calculated that certain of our men who had been elected 
on the free-soil issue would vote for him after they had acted with us 
long enough to satisfy their consciences and constituents. Our object was 
to make an election before they got through with their program. We were 
savagely opposed to Matteson and so was Mr. Lincoln, and he said that 
if we did not drop in and unite upon Trumbull, those men would go for 
Matteson and elect him, which would be an everlasting disgrace to the 
State. We reluctantly complied with Lincoln's suggestions and went up 
on Trumbull and elected him. Mr. Lincoln did not appear to have any 
hard feelings towards Trumbull, although he was of course disappointed 
and mortified at his own want of success. This is the impression left on 
my memory of the event. I do not remember how many ballots we had, but 
I should think we had five or six. I do not think there was much ill feel- 
ing felt or manifested amongst Lincoln's friends, although we looked 
upon it as a great misfortune to him personally that he could not succeed 
on that occasion, but at home there was considerable bitterness displayed 
by some of the old Whigs who regarded it as an affront put npon men 


who had belonged to that party. Trumbull was present when the election 
came off, but I do not believe that he was charged with being instrumental 
in bringing about the result, nor do I suppose that he took any pains to 
prevent it or any active part in the matter, one way or another. I know 
that we, the opponents of the pro-slavery party, harmonized during the 
rest of the session. I remember that Judge S. T. Logan gave up Mr. Lin- 
coln with great reluctance. He begged hard to try him one or two ballots 
more, but Mr. Lincoln urged us not to risk it longer. I never saw Mr. 
Lincoln more earnest and decided. He said he was satisfied that he 
could not get the support of those five men, and it would be unwise to 
contend any more and incur the risk of electing Matteson. I know that 
the friends of Matteson were grievously disappointed at the result. They 
felt sure that he would be elected in due season and appeared to be taken 
by surprise when we united on and elected Trumbull. These are my impres- 
sions, but owing to the length of time which has elapsed and the vague- 
ness of my recollection, I would not be answerable for anything more than 
their correctness in general and not in detail. You are at liberty to make 
such use of them as you may deem proper if their publication can con- 
duce in any way to vindicate the truth of history. If not necessary, I 
should of course prefer not to have them made public. 

Your friend, 


[October 1866.] 
Dear Sir: 

Believing that any authentic statements connected with the early life and 
history of the beloved Abraham Lincoln should belong to the great Amer- 
ican people, I submit the following replies to the interrogatories contained 
in your recent letter. I trust largely to your courtesy as a gentleman, to 
your honesty and integrity as a historian, and to your skill in writing for 
the public, to enlarge wherever my statements seem obscure, and to con- 
dense and remove whatever seems superfluous. Above all, I trust to your 
honor and your sense of right and consistency, to exclude from print any- 
thing which in your judgment may injuriously affect the surviving actors 
in the great drama which you propose to re-enact once more. 

Many of my statements are made from memory with the aid of associa- 
tion of events ; and should you discover that the date, location, and circum- 
stances of the events here named should be contradictory to those named 


from other sources, I beg of you to consider well the testimony in each case, 
and make up your history from those statements which may appear to you 
best fitted to remove all doubt as to their correctness. 

You ask, first : When did you first become acquainted with Lincoln, where 
was it, and what was he doing? I answer: In the year 1830 or 1881 in the 
town of New Salem, Illinois. He was at that time a clerk in the store of 
Denton Offutt, having just returned with Offutt from New Orleans, with 
whom he had gone on a flatboat as a hand to that city. At that time he 
boarded with John Cameron, a partner of my father in laying out the town 
of New Salem, and in building a mill on the Sangamon River. At that period 
New Salem was a small village of not more than ten or fifteen families, who 
lived in log cabins, and who were as sociable and familiar as persons are 
who find themselves thus isolated from the great world outside. The mill 
was a saw and grist mill, was the first one built on the Sangamon River, and 
supplied a large section of country with its meal, flour, and lumber. At 
times when it was necessary to construct a dam to afford the proper water 
power, word would be sent through the neighborhood, and the people would 
come ten and fifteen miles en masse, and assist gratuitously in the work. 

On such occasions Mr. Lincoln was ever ready to work with his stalwart 
hand, and to assist in constructing or repairing the dams or mill, raising 
houses in the village, etc., and this too when he had no personal interest in 
the success of the enterprise. 

This is mentioned here as an illustration of the generosity and nobleness 
of the settlers at that early day. It also shows an element of the character 
of the people among whom Mr* Lincoln received his first impressions and 
may assist in proving that he was then, and why he always appeared after- 
wards, one of the people, and an ardent sympathizer with the masses. 

It has been stated that Mr. Offutt owned or had an interest in the mill 
and that Mr. Lincoln was employed to assist in taking care of the new 
enterprise. This is a mistake. James Rutledge and John Cameron, partners, 
first commenced erecting a mill on Concord Creek, about six miles below 
New Salem, where they owned the land, but large inducements being 
offered and the proprietors fearing a scarcity of water, removed to New 
Salem in 1828 and built the mill and laid out the town. Neither Mr. Lincoln 
or Mr. Offutt had any pecuniary interest in it. It belonged solely to Rut- 
ledge and Cameron, and Mr. Lincoln only assisted in repairing it as other 
neighbors did, gratuitously. He was at this time the clerk of Mr. Offutt, 
who kept a general country store, including dry goods, groceries, and all 
the varieties which belong to such an establishment. 

You ask, second: Did he board with you your father and family how 
long when and all about it? On Mr. Lincoln's arrival at New Salem, he 


boarded with John Cameron along with Offutt. He afterwards boarded 
with my father, during the years 1833 and 1834, as appears from papers 
still in the possession of the family. I am satisfied he boarded with us both 
prior and subsequent to the years named, but so long a time has intervened 
that I cannot fix the date with precise certainty. 

You ask, third: In regard to my father and the family. My father was 
born in South Carolina, removed to Kentucky, and from thence to White 
County, Illinois, in 1816. The first three children, Jane, John, and Ann, 
were born in Kentucky; the later six were born in Illinois David, Robert, 
Nancy, and Margaret born in White County, and William and Sarah in 
Sangamon County. My father removed to Sangamon County in 1825 and 
died in Menard County, which was formerly a part of Sangamon County, 
Decembers, 1835. 

Fourth : You make some pertinent inquiries concerning my sister and the 
relations which existed between herself and Mr, Lincoln. My sister Ann 
was born January 7, 1813, and died August 25, 1835. She was born in Ken- 
tucky and died in Menard County, Illinois. In 1830, my sister being then 
but seventeen years of age, a stranger calling himself John McNeil came 
to New Salem. He boarded with Mr. Cameron and was keeping a store with 
a Samuel Hill. A friendship grew up between McNeil and Ann which 
ripened apace and resulted in an engagement to marry. McNeil's real name 
was McNamar. It seems that his father had failed in business, and his son, 
a very young man, had determined to make a fortune, pay off his father's 
debts, and restore him to his former social and financial standing. With 
this view he left his home clandestinely, and in order to avoid pursuit by 
his parents changed his name. His conduct was strictly high-toned, honest, 
and moral, and his ob j ect, whatever any may think of the deception which 
he practiced in changing his name, entirely praiseworthy. 

He prospered in business and, pending his engagement with Ann, he 
revealed his true name, returned to Ohio to relieve his parents from their 
embarrassments, and to bring the family with him to Illinois. On his return 
to Ohio, several years Having elapsed, he found his father in declining 
health or dead, and perhaps the circumstances of the family prevented his 
immediate return to New Salem. At all events he was absent two or three 

In the meantime Mr. Lincoln paid his addresses to Arm, continued 
his visits and attentions regularly, and those resulted in an engagement 
to marry, conditional to an honorable release from the contract with 
McNamar. There is no kind of doubt as to the existence of this engagement. 
David Rutledge urged Ann to consummate it, but she refused until such 
time as she could see McNamar, inform him of the change in her feelings, 


and seek an honorable release. Mr. Lincoln lived in the village, McNamar 
did not return, and in August 1835 Ann sickened and died. The effect upon 
Mr. Lincoln's mind was terrible ; he became plunged in despair, and many 
of his friends feared that reason would desert her throne. His extraordi- 
nary emotions were regarded as strong evidence of the existence of the ten- 
derest relations between himself and the deceased. McNamar, however, 
returned to Illinois in the fall after Ann's death. 

Fifth: Ann was, as before stated, seventeen years old in 1830. My age at 
the same time was twelve. She went to school to Mentor Graham, who was a 
successful and popular teacher in 1832 and 1833. My sister was esteemed 
the brightest mind of the family, was studious, devoted to her duties of 
whatever character, and possessed a remarkably amiable and lovable dis- 
position. She had light hair and blue eyes. 

Sixth question: I have already written you in relation to my acquaintance 
with Samuel Hill, Offutt, Green, and others. Perhaps too much credit is 
awarded William Green for Mr. Lincoln's knowledge of grammar. Mr. 
Lincoln clerked for Offutt in 1831 and 1832. James Rutledge owned an 
interest in a grocery in New Salem, a remnant of a stock belonging to Rut- 
ledge and Sinco. Sinco bought a lot of horses, took them south, and broke 
up. Rutledge sold out to Lincoln and William Berry. Mr. Lincoln only had 
possession a very short time and never gave it his personal attention. He 
soon sold out to Berry, who gave his note to Lincoln for the amount, who 
paid Rutledge with Berry's note. Soon after, Berry failed, and after a 
while Lincoln came to Rutledge and made him a tender to pay half the note. 
This Rutledge utterly refused to accept from Mr. L., alleging that he had 
taken Berry's note for the debt and, if he could not make it out of him, he 
would not accept it at all. About this tune Mr. Lincoln was employed in 
surveying, he having learned the science, and being engaged in a good busi- 
ness in the profession. 

Seventh: My father moved to and laid out the town of New Salem in the 
summer of 1829. I moved in 1836 with my mother and elder brother from 
Menard County to Fulton County, Illinois, and from thence in the fall of 
1837 to Van Buren County, Iowa. My father was born in South Carolina, 
May 11, 1781, and died in Menard County, Illinois, December 3, 1835, 
being about fifty-four years of age. 

Eighth : I cannot give you a satisfactory reply to many items embraced 
in this inquiry, for the lack of dates or circumstances corroborating them. 
Many things said of him and done by him are indelibly fixed in my mind, 
but the absence of the proper surroundings impels me to withhold them. 
Mr. Lincoln studied Kirkham's Grammar ; the valuable copy which he de- 
lighted to peruse is now in my possession. He also studied natural philos- 


ophy, astronomy, chemistry, etc. He had no regular teacher, but perhaps 
received more assistance from Mentor Graham than any other person. He 
could be seen usually when in pursuit of his ordinary avocations with his 
book under his arm; at a moment of leisure he would open it, study, close 
it, and recite to himself. When in young company he has been known to 
excite the most uproarious laughter by singing the tune called "Legacy" in 
the "Missouri Harmony," substituting the words "Old Gray" for "Red 
Grape." The effect is very ludicrous as anyone can see by reference to the 
lines quoted. His enjoyment of a joke was very intense; and all that has 
been said in truth of his disposition is no exaggeration. 

About the year 1832 or 1833 Mr. Lincoln made his first effort at public 
speaking. A debating club, of which James Rutledge was president, was 
organized and held regular meetings. As he arose to speak, his tall form 
towered above the little assembly. Both hands were thrust down deep in 
the pockets of his pantaloons. A perceptible smile at once lit up the faces of 
the audience, for all anticipated the relation of some humorous story. But 
he opened up the discussion in splendid style to the infinite astonishment 
of his friends. As he warmed with his subject, his hands would forsake his 
pockets and would enforce his ideas by awkward gestures ; but would very 
soon seek their easy resting place. He pursued the question with reason and 
argument so pithy and forcible that all were amazed. The president, at his 
fireside after the meeting, remarked to his wife that there was more in Abe's 
head than wit and fun, that he was already a fine speaker, that all he lacked 
was culture to enable him to reach the high destiny which he knew was in 
store for him. From that time Mr. Rutledge took a deeper interest in him. 

Soon after Mr. Rutledge urged him to announce himself as a candidate 
for the Legislature. This he at first declined to do, averring that it was im- 
possible to be elected. It was suggested that a canvass of the county would 
bring him prominently before the people and in time would do him good. 
He reluctantly yielded to the solicitations of his friends and made a partial 
canvass. The result, though he was defeated, was highly gratifying to him 
and astonished even his most ardent admirers. 

At the next election he was placed as a candidate for Assembly on the 
regular Whig ticket, and was triumphantly elected in a district profoundly 

In illustration of his goodness and nobleness of heart, the following in- 
cident is related. Ab Trout, a poor bare- footed boy, was engaged one cold 
winter day in chopping a pile of logs from an old house or stable which had 
been pulled down. The wood was dry and hard and the boy was hard at 
work, when Lincoln came up and asked what he got for the job, and what 
he would do with the money. "Ab" said $1.00 and, pointing to his naked 


feet, said: "A pair of shoes." Abe told him to go in and warm and he would 
chop awhile for him. The boy delayed a little, but Lincoln finished the 
work, threw down his ax, and told him to go and buy the shoes. "Ab" re- 
membered this act with the liveliest gratitude. Once he, being a cast-iron 
Democrat,, determined to vote against his party and for Mr. Lincoln; but 
the friends, as he afterwards said with tears in eyes, made him drunk and 
he had voted against Abe. Thus he did not even have an opportunity to re- 
turn the noble conduct of Mr. Lincoln by this small measure of thanks. 

In the early times of which we write an appeal was often made to phys- 
ical strength to settle controversies. To illustrate this feature of the society 
in which Mr. Lincoln was mingling, it may be well to relate an incident. 

Two neighbors, Henry Clark and Ben Wilcox, had had a law-suit. The 
defeated declared that although he was beaten in the suit, he could whip his 
opponent. This was a formal challenge and was at once carried to the ears 
of the victor, Wilcox and as promptly accepted. The time, place, and 
seconds were chosen with due regularity Mr. Lincoln being Clark's and 
John Brewer Wilcox's second. The parties met, stripped themselves all 
but their breeches, went in, and Mr. Lincoln's principal was beautifully 
whipped. These combats were conducted with as much ceremony and punc- 
tiliousness as ever graced the dueling ground. After the conflict the seconds 
conducted their respective principals to the river, washed off the blood, and 
assisted them to dress. During this performance, the second of the party 
opposed to Mr. Lincoln remarked: "Well, Abe, my man has whipped yours, 
and I can whip you/* Now this challenge came from a man who was very 
small in size. Mr. Lincoln agreed to fight provided he would "chalk out his 
size on Mr. Lincoln's person, and every blow struck outside of that mark 
should be counted foul." After this sally there was the best possible humor 
and all parties were as orderly as if they had been engaged in the most 
harmless amusement. In all matters of dispute about horse-racing or any 
of the popular pastimes of the day, Mr. Lincoln's judgment was final to all 
that region of country. People relied implicitly upon his honesty, integrity, 
and impartiality. 

Very soon after Mr. lii&coln's coming to New Salem and while clerking 
for Offutt, Offutt made a bet with William Clary that Abe could throw 
down in a wrestle any man in the county. This bet was taken, and Jack 
Armstrong, a rough, and the best fighter in Sangamon, was pitted against 
him. The match took place in front of Offutt's store. All the men of the 
village and quite a number from the surrounding country were assembled. 
Armstrong was a man in the prime of life, square-built, muscular, and 
strong as an ox. The contest began, and Jack soon found so worthy an an- 
tagonist t&at he **broke his holt," caught Abe by the leg, and would have 


brought him to the ground, had not Mr. Lincoln seized him by the throat 
and thrust him at arm's length from him. Jack having played foul, there 
was every prospect of a general fight. At this time James Rutledge, having 
heard of the difficulty, ran into the crowd and, through the influence which 
he exerted over all parties, succeeded in quieting the disturbance and pre- 
venting a fight. 

His physical strength proved of vast utility to him in his many arduous 
labors, up to the time he became President, and a man of less iron frame 
would have sunk under the enormous burdens laid upon him during four 
years marked by executive cares that have no parallel in history. 

After this wrestling match Jack Armstrong and his crowd became the 
warmest friends and stanchest supporters of Mr. Lincoln. This Jack Arm- 
strong was father of the boy who was some years afterwards arrested and 
tried for the murder of young Metzker, and who was voluntarily defended 
and cleared by Mr. Lincoln. The account of this remarkable trial is already 
before the public and it is not necessary that I should repeat it here. Mr. 
Lincoln never forgot the friends with whom he was associated in early life. 
Soon after his nomination for the Presidency, some grandchildren of James 
Rutledge circulated the report that Mr. Lincoln had left their grand- 
father's house without paying his board bill. These boys were reared under 
Copperhead influences and continued in the faith during the war. This 
slanderous report reached the ears of Mrs. Rutledge, widow of James Rut- 
ledge, and whom he always called "Aunt Polly." She took immediate steps 
to correct the infamous libel and caused a letter to be written Mr. Lincoln. 
Mr. Lincoln at once wrote Mrs. Rutledge, expressing his thanks for her 
kindness and the interest manifested in his behalf, recurring with warm ex- 
pressions of remembrance to the many happy days spent under her roof. 

While Mr. Lincoln was engaged in surveying, he wore jeans, pantaloons, 
"foxed/* or covered on the forepart and below the knees behind, with buck- 
skin. This added to the warmth, protected against rain, and rendered them 
more durable in performing the labor necessary to his calling. His other 
clothing was such as worn by all the inhabitants of the village. 

Trials of strength were very common among the pioneers. Lifting 
weights, as heavy timbers piled one upon another, was a favorite pastime, 
and no workman in the neighborhood could at all cope with Mr. Lincoln in 
this direction. I have seen him frequently take a barrel of whisky by the 
chimes and lift it up to his face as if to drink out of the bunghole. This feat 
he could accomplish with the greatest ease. I never saw him taste or drink 
a drop of any kind of spirituous liquors. 

I am very respectfully yours, etc., 



I have omitted an incident in the early life of Mr, Lincoln which I will 
here relate. The only man who was ever successful in bringing Lincoln to 
the ground in a wrestle was Lorenzo D. Thompson, a very large and power- 
ful man. This match took place at Bearstown, Illinois, the general ren- 
dezvous while waiting for orders to march against Black Hawk and his 
warriors. In this match Lincoln was taken by surprise, and in the first trial 
Thompson brought him to the ground, but in two successive matches Lin- 
coln came off victorious. R.B.R. 


Winterset, Iowa, October Q&, 1866. * 

Having seen the statements made by R. B. Rutledge in reference to the 
early life of Abraham Lincoln and having known Mr. Lincoln and been an 
eye-witness to the events as narrated, from my boyhood, I take pleasure in 
saying they are literally true. 

As to the relation existing between Mr. Lincoln and Ann Rutledge, I 
have every reason to believe that it was of the tenderest character, as I 
know of my own knowledge that he made regular visits to her. During her 
last illness he visited her sick chamber and on his return stopped at my 
house. It was very evident that he was much distressed, and I was not sur- 
prised when it was rumored subsequently that his reason was in danger. It 
was generally understood that Mr. Lincoln and Ann Rutledge were en- 
gaged to be married. She was a very amiable and lovable woman and it 
was deemed a very suitable match one in which the parties were in every 
way worthy of each other. 

(Signed*) JOHN JONES* 


Qskaloosa, November 18, 1866. 
My dear Friend: 

I some time since received your very kind letter of 3d inst* and owe 
you an apology for not answering sooner, but know you will pardon my 
seeming indifference, when I tell you I have been moving from Burlington 
to this place. 

You suggest that the probable cause of Ann's sickness was her conflicts^ 
emotions, etc. ; as to this I cannot say. I, however, have my own private con- 
victions ; the character of her sickness was brain fever. 

I am glad to know that you feel as I do, that injustice is done Mentor 


Graham, and trust largely to your sense of justice to place him in his true 
light; before the reading world, and award to him that meed of praise that 
is due the man who assisted in laying the foundation of Mr. Lincoln's great- 
ness. I know of my own knowledge that Mr. Graham contributed more to 
Mr, Lincoln's education while in New Salem than any other man. If Mr. 
Graham is living and you should meet him, tell him I remember my old 
teacher with gratitude. 

I received a copy of your lecture, a day or two since, which is bold, 
manly, and substantially true. I will take the liberty to throw a little light 
on one point for your future use; to wit, Samuel Hill first courted Ann, She 
declined his proposition to marry, after which McNamar paid his ad- 
dresses, resulting in an engagement to marry; after McNamar left Menard 
County to visit his parents and during his prolonged absence, Mr. Lincoln 
courted Ann, resulting in a second engagement, not conditional, as my lan- 
guage would seem to indicate, but absolute. She, however, in the conversa- 
tion referred to by me, between her and David, urged the propriety of 
seeing Mr. McNamar, inform him of the change in her feelings, and seek an 
honorable release, before consummating the engagement with Mr. Lincoln 
by marriage. 

I hope to be able to visit you this winter, as I assure you nothing would 
give me more pleasure than to see and talk with the man who appreciates 
the virtues and character of Abraham Lincoln. 

I am, my dear friend, 

Very truly yours, 



OsJcdoosa, November %l t 1866. 
Dear Sir: 

I have just received your two letters of 18th and 19th inst. and hasten 
to answer. 

You askj first : Do I truthfully paint the old pioneers, with classes the 
oldest class and our fathers? I answer: You do. You ask, secondly: Do I 
get the condition of Mr. Lincoln's mental suffering and condition truth- 
fully? I cannot answer this question from personal knowledge, but from 
what I have learned from others at the time you are substantially correct. 
You ask, thirdly: Do I truthfully describe New Salem, her surroundings, 
from 1825 to 1837? I answer: Your picture is well and truthfully drawn, 
as it appeared to me from 1828 to 1836, the time in which I was familiar 
with the place. You ask, fourthly: Do I get the facts all correctly, and tell 


them truthfully? I answer: Subtantially you do, but probably a little in 
error in detail in one or two particulars ; to wit, in your lecture you say three 
men fell in love with Ann Rutledge simultaneously. The facts are William 
Berry first courted Ann and was rejected; afterwards Samuel Hill; then 
John McNamar, which resulted in an engagement to marry at some future 
time. He, McNamar, left the county on business, was gone some years ; in 
the meantime and during McNamar's absence, Mr. Lincoln courted Ann 
and engaged to marry her, on the completion of the study of law. In this I 
am corroborated by James McRutledge, a cousin about her age, and who 
was in her confidence. He says in a letter to me just received: "Ann told 
me once in coming from a camp meeting on Eock Creek, that engagements 
made too far ahead sometimes failed, that one had failed (meaning her en- 
gagement with McNamar), and gave me to understand that as soon as cer- 
tain studies were completed she and Lincoln would be married." He says 
you and Mr. Cogsdell talked with him on this subject, but he did not tell 
you as much, as he thought you had a design in it ; you can correspond with 
him and say to him that this is no longer a delicate question, inasmuch as it 
must of necessity become a matter of history, that I desire the whole truth 
to be recorded. I think you are in error as to the cause of Ann's sickness ; 
you will pardon me for my frankness, as I wish to assist you in developing 
the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. 

I have no doubt but Ann had fully determined to break off the engage- 
ment with McNamar, but presume she had never notified him of the fact, 
as he did not return until after her death. 

You are also in error in relating the conversation had with McNamar on 
October 14, 1836 ; you will bear in mind, McNamar left the county in 1832 
or 1833 to fetch his father's family to Menard County, and did not return 
with them until the fall of 1835, after Ann's death. His mother died some 
years after he brought her to Menard County and was buried in the same 
graveyard. McNamar had purchased the farm on which we lived at the 
time of Ann's and father's death, prior to his leaving the county in 1832. 

You ask me how I like your lecture. I answer I like it very much; the 
great wonder with me is, how you have unearthed, developed, and brought 
to light and life so much dead matter, and made so few mistakes. 

I am, dear sir, truly your friend, 


P.S. In folding this, Mrs. Rutledge suggests that she would be pleased 
to desire your photograph for her new album, as she desires to fill it ap 
with new as well as old friends. 





Chicago, III, November 85, 1866. 

My dear Sir: 

Some time ago you asked me to relate any anecdote or incident I might 
know connected with the late lamented President Lincoln. The following 
"pig story/' No. 2, is literally true. 

In 1855 Mr. Lincoln and myself were traveling by buggy from Wood- 
ford County Court to Bloomington, 111., and in passing through a little 
grove, we suddenly heard the terrific squealing of a little pig near by us. 
Quick as thought Mr. L. leaped out of the buggy, seized a club, and pounced 
upon an old sow, and beat her lustily, that was in the act of eating one of 
her young ones, and thus he saved the pig and then remarked: "By jingo! 
the unnatural old brute shall not devour her own progeny." This, I think 
was his first proclamation of freedom. The following shows his ready wit. 
In 1858 in the court at Bloomington, 111., Mr. Lincoln was engaged in a 
case, of not very great importance, but the attorney on the other side, Mr. 
Scott, a young lawyer of fine abilities (now a judge), was always very 
sensitive about being beaten, and in this case manifested unusual zeal and 
interest. The case lasted till late at night, when it was finally submitted to 
the jury. Mr. S. spent a sleepless night in anxiety., and early next morning 
learned to his great chagrin he had lost the case. Mr. Lincoln met him at 
the court house and asked him what had become of his case, with lugubrious 

countenance and melancholy tone. Mr. S. said: "It's gone to h 1." "Oh, 

well," said Mr. L., "then youll see it again/' 

When do you expect to finish the Life of Mr. Lincoln? I opine it would 
be a very readable book, from what I have seen of it. 

I think your portraiture of him is most excellent. But I think, take him 
in all, we shall never look upon his like again. I have a little word in his 
own handwriting he gave me at Washington, August 22, 1864, the last time 
I ever saw him, which I intend to keep most sacredly and hand down to 
"posterity yet unborn/' 

Let me hear from you, God and Liberty; answer. 


Hon. Sec. of War, please see & hear my particular friend Capt. 

Aug. M> 1864, 



Oskaloosa, December If, 1866. 
Dear Sir: 

Your letter of 1st inst. is before me, and I answer: first., I think Mr. Lin- 
coln read law in 1834 and 1835, read surveying probably in 1833 and '34?; 
second, I cannot say whether Mr. Lincoln was radically a changed man, 
after the event of which you speak or not, as I saw little of him after that 
time ; third, when he first came to New Salem and up to the time of which 
we write, Mr. Lincoln was all life and animation, seemed to see the bright 
side of every picture ; fourth, cannot say as to his habit of learning eloquent 
pieces by heart, he was ever ready with an appropriate response to any 
vein of humor or eloquence when occasion required, have frequently heard 
him repeat pieces of prose and poetry, his practice was, when he wished 
to indelibly fix anything he was reading or studying on his mind, to write 
it down, have known him to write whole pages of books he was reading; 
fifth, cannot tell you how he read in the woods, as I never intruded on his 
retirement, simply know he read in the woods by seeing him return and 
having heard him say he had been reading in the brush, have seen him 
reading, walking the streets, occasionally become absorbed with his book, 
would stop and stand for a few moments, then walk on, or pass from one 
house in the town to another, or from one crowd or squad of men to another, 
apparently seeking amusement, with his book under his arm, when the com- 
pany or amusement became dry or irksome he would open his book and 
commune with it for a time, then return it to its usual resting place, and 
entertain his audience; sixth, as well as I remember he was not what is 
usually termed a quick-minded man, although he usually would arrive at 
his conclusions very readily, seemed invariably to reflect and deliberate, 
never acted from impulse so far as to arrive at a wrong conclusion on a 
subject of any moment. 

I desire you to learn all you can from James McRutledge as to the break- 
ing off the engagement between Ann and McNamar. 

Very truly yours, 


Edwardsville, December B, 1866. 
Dear Friend: 

Yours of yesterday is received in which you ask if I remember whether 


Mr. Lincoln was given to abstract speculation or not. My impression is 
that he was less given to pure abstraction than most of thoughtful and 
investigating minds. I should say that he was contemplative rather than 
speculative. He wanted something solid to rest upon and hence his bias 
for mathematics and the physical sciences. I think he bestowed more at- 
tention to them than upon metaphysical speculations. I have heard him dis- 
course upon the problem whether a ball discharged from a gun in a hori- 
zontal position would be longer in reaching the ground than one dropped at 
the instant of discharge from the muzzle of the gun, and he said it always 
appeared to him that they would both reach the ground at the same time 
even before he had read the philosophical explanation. He was fond of 
astronomy, but I can't call to mind any reference of his to geology. He 
doubtless had read and thought of the subject but it did not engage his at- 
tention to the degree that astronomy and mechanical science did. He in- 
vited me one day at Washington city to call upon him in the evening when 
he said we would go to the observatory and take a look at the moon through 
the large telescope. It proved to be cloudy and I did not go. I have no 
recollection of ever hearing Mr. Lincoln express himself in reference to 
the infinities; sometimes his mind ranged beyond the solid grounds on 
which it delighted to dwell. He exercised himself in endeavoring to trace 
out the source and development of language and he told me that on one 
occasion he prepared, or perhaps delivered, a lecture in Springfield on that 
subject and that he was surprised to find his investigations in that direc- 
tion so interesting and instructive to himself. He used to say [of] the at- 
tempt to ascertain wherein wit baffled him more than any other undertaking 
of the kind that the first impression would be that the thing was of easy 
solution but the varieties of wit were so great that what would explain one 
case would be wholly inapplicable to another. I am of opinion that there 
was a slight tinge of fatalism in Mr. Lincoln's composition which would 
or might have led him to believe somewhat in destiny. Mr. Lincoln told me 
once that he could not avoid believing in predestination although he cpn- 
sidered it a very unprofitable field of speculation because it was hard to 
reconcile that belief with responsibility for one's acts. After he became 
President he gave unmistakable indications of being a believer in destiny. 
I feel quite sure that there was not a moment when he despaired of success 
in putting down the rebellion, and he trusted more in Divine power than 
in human instrumentality. Mr. Lincoln had as strong a faith that it was 
in the purposes of the Almighty to save this country as ever Moses had 
that God would deliver the Israelites from bondage, and he came to be- 
lieve that he himself was an instrument foreordained to aid in the ae^ 
complishment of this purpose as well as to emancipate the slaves. I do not 


think that he was what I would term a blind believer in fate or destiny but 
that he considered the means foreordained as well as the end and there- 
fore he was extremely diligent in the use of the means. Mr. Lincoln had 
a remarkably inquiring mind, and I have no doubt he roamed over the 
whole field of knowledge. There were departments, however, upon which 
he fixed his attention with special interest. Those which were of a practical 
character and having a solid and indisputable basis he made himself mas- 
ter of so far as time and opportunity would allow, and this will account 
for his bringing out certain branches in conversation and being silent in 
regard to others about which he must have read as much as persons ordi- 
narily do. He did not seem to think that to be of much value which could 
not be proven or rather demonstrated. His love of and capacity for analysis 
was wonderful. He analyzed every proposition with startling clearness 
and only discussed those branches of his case upon which it hinged, leaving 
the others clear out of view. He was a marvel of fairness in debate both 
in the courts and the political arena and he never desired to obtain an 
unfair advantage. From this I should infer that the sense of right and 
wrong was extremely acute in his nature. Mr. Lincoln was undemonstrative 
and consequently his character had to be studied to be understood. One 
would not comprehend his salient traits at first acquaintance and so he 
was sometimes misunderstood. He was by some considered cold-hearted or 
at least indifferent towards his friends. This was the result of his extreme 
fairness. He would rather disoblige a friend than do an act of injustice 
to a political opponent. His strong sense of justice made him hate slavery 
intensely, but he was so undemonstrative that he seldom gave utterance 
to his feelings even, on that question. He never talked feelingly on the 
subject to me but once, although he knew that I agreed with him about 
the wrongs of that institution. To sum up his character I should say that 
he had greater natural mental caliber than any man I ever knew. He was 
extremely just and fair-minded. He was gentle as a girl and yet as firm for 
the right as adamant. He was tender-hearted without much show of sensi- 
bility. His manners were kind without ostentation. He was unquestion- 
ably ambitious for official distinction but he only desired place to enable 
him to do good and serve his country and his kind. It was somewhat strange 
how Mr. Lincoln, constituted as he was, could be a radical. But radical he 
was so far as ends were concerned^ while he was conservative as to the 
means to be employed to bring about the ends. I think he had it in his 
mind for a long time to war upon slavery until its destruction was effected, 
but he always indicated a preference for getting rid of slavery by purchase 
rather than the war power. He was an artful man and yet his art had all 
the appearance of simple-mindedness. For instance, he would not begin thf 


work of emancipation when proposed by Fremont nor would he proclaim 
the freedom of the slave until he had given the masters one hundred days* 
notice to lay down their arms. This was done to place them obviously in 
the wrong and strengthen his justification for the act. Mr. Lincoln knew 
that it was not in the power of the masters to lay down their arms, but 
they being in the wrong, he had no scruples about making that wrong ap- 
pear monstrous. He was grave and gay alternately. He was the most 
rigidly logical in debate and yet he illustrated every point by a humorous 
anecdote. Study with Mr. Lincoln was a business^ not a pleasure. He was 
extremely diligent when he had anything to do in preparing himself, but 
when his task was done, he betook himself to recreation. The information 
he gathered up was in reference to special questions and not with a view 
of laying in a general store of knowledge, expecting that he would have 
occasion to use it, and yet his natural tastes and aptitudes led him to 
explore most of those departments of study which bore mainly on the 
practical affairs of life. He had not a particle of envy in his nature. He 
always admitted that Douglas was a wonderfully great political leader, 
and with a good cause to advocate he thought he would be invincible. Mr. 
Lincoln appeared to be either extremely mirthful or extremely sad although 
if he had griefs he never spoke of them in general conversation. It was 
as a humorist that he towered above all other men it was ever my lot to 
meet. In early times Illinois was conspicuous for the number of its story 
tellers. The prevailing taste at that time took that direction. When Mr, 
Lincoln was about, I never knew a man who would pretend to vie with him 
in entertaining a crowd. He had an unfailing budget of genuinely witty 
and humorous anecdotes with which he illustrated every topic which could 
arise. The application was always perfect and his manner of telling a 
story was inimitable, although there was no acting in his manner, for he 
was not in the least degree histrionic. He never invented any of his stories 
but simply retailed them, but how he could gather up such a boundless 
supply and have them ever ready at command was the wonder of all his 
acquaintances. It might seem that this faculty would detract from his 
dignity^ but it did not. No man ever commanded greater respect from or 
inspired more confidence in an audience than Mr. Lincoln did. He used 
his stories as much for producing conviction in the minds of his hearers 
as for creating merriment. If Mr. Lincoln studied any one thing more than 
another and for effect, it was to make himself understood by all classes. 
He had great natural clearness and simplicity of statement, and this 
faculty he cultivated with marked assiduity. He despised everything like 
ornament or display and confined himself to a dry bold statement of his 
point and then worked away with sledge-hammer logic at making out 


his case, I believe Mr. Lincoln succeeded in his purpose, for I think the 
great body of our people understood and appreciated him better than any 
man this country has ever produced. 

In religious matters I think Mr, Lincoln cared but little for tenets or 
sects but had strong and pervading ideas of the infinite power, wisdom, 
and goodness of Deity and of man's obligations to his Maker and to his 
fellow-beings. He was economical without being parsimonious. He never 
attempted a speculation in his life but always displayed a commendable 
zeal and alacrity to obtain business. He was brave without being rash and 
never refrained from giving utterance to his views because they were un- 
popular or likely to bring him into danger ; at the same time he abstained 
from needlessly giving offense. Mr. Lincoln never idolized particular men 
but had wonderful faith in the honesty and good sense of the masses. In 
politics he was an old-line Whig, a devout believer in a national currency, 
the development of American industry, and internal improvements by the 
general government. He always deprecated the removal of men from 
office for opinion's sake. Although Mr. Lincoln was eminently national in 
his feelings he looked with disfavor upon the American party and con- 
tended that a love of liberty and free government was not confined to this 
country; he ascribed our beneficent institutions rather to circumstances, 
and his aim was to restrict it to its original design. Mr. Lincoln had the 
appearance of being a slow thinker. My impression is that he was not so 
slow as he was careful. He never liked to put forth a proposition without 
revolving it over in his own mind, but when he was compelled to act 
promptly, as in debate, he was quick enough. Douglas, who was a very 
skillful controversialist, never obtained any advantage over him. I never 
could discover anything in Mr. Lincoln's mental composition remarkably 
singular. His qualities were those ordinarily given to mankind, but he 
had them in remarkable degree. He was wonderfully kind, careful^ and 
just. He had an immense stock of common sense and he had faith enough 
in it to trust it in every emergency. He had passed through all the grades 
of society when he reached the Presidency, and he had found common 
sense a sure reliance and he put it into practice. He acted all through his 
career upon just such principles as every man of good common sense 
would approve and say: that is just as I would have done myself. There 
was nothing of the Napoleonic in his style of doing things. If he had been 
in Napoleon's place, he never would have gone off to Egypt to strike a 
blow at England, and he would have been equally careful not to send an 
army to Moscow. Lincoln had no superhuman qualities, which we call 
genius, but he had those which belong to mankind generally in an aston- 
ishing degree. If I may be allowed the expression, Mr. Lincoln was a 


great common man. He was a giant, but formed and fashioned like other 
men. He only differed from most men in degree. He had only their qualities 
but there he had them in larger measure than any man of modern times. He 
loved the masses but was not strikingly partial to any particular individual. 
Mr. Lincoln cared but little for minor elections but entered very zealously 
into important and general ones. Hence he was not generally successful 
at home and was not considered a good political organizer because he 
allowed the subordinate offices to be filled by those opposed to him. When 
he had a larger theater to operate upon, however, it cannot be denied that 
he acted with great boldness and skill. He succeeded in breaking down the 
best organized party that ever existed in this or any other country and 
that under the lead of the most consummate chieftain we have ever had. 
Douglas was bold, original, and energetic. Politics with him was a trade. 
It was only an episode in Mr. Lincoln's life. Douglas was idolized by his 
followers. Lincoln was loved by his. Douglas was the representative of 
his partisans. Lincoln was the representative man of the unsophisticated 
people. Douglas was great in the estimation of his followers. Lincoln was 
good in the opinion of his supporters. Douglas headed a party. Lincoln 
stood upon a principle. Lincoln did not begin his operations for the Presi- 
dency at the head of a party. He had the tact and good fortune to com- 
bine much of the old Whig and Democratic parties as rebelled against 
Southern dictation, with the free-soilers proper, and thus secured a 
majority of the free States. At the time of his death he had, however, suc- 
ceeded in organizing a party. He had gained the confidence of a majority 
of the whole people in his fitness for the place. All but the old political 
hacks had settled down in the belief that he was master of the situation 
and was the right man in the right place. The amazing popularity he ob- 
tained was attributable to two things. He had been successful under the 
most trying circumstances and then he was most emphatically one of the 
people. He said and did things in a way that commended itself to the pub- 
lic taste and so that all could understand it. The masses are naturally 
delighted at seeing one of their own class elevated, if he proves competent 
and particularly if he succeeds by doing things in their way. The idea 
that the affairs of state cannot be carried on in a plain common sense way 
is as old as the time of the Egyptian priesthood. Statesmen have generally 
given countenance to this absurdity and inculcated the idea that statecraft 
was beyond the comprehension of ordinary mortals. When we found Mr. 
Lincoln administering the affairs of government with so much vigor and 
success, we felt proud of him. There was a strong tinge of sadness in 
Mr. Lincoln's composition. He was not naturally disposed to look on the 
bright side of the picture. He felt very strongly that there was more of 


discomfort than real happiness in human existence under the most favor- 
able circumstances, and the general current of his reflections was in that 
channel. He never obtruded those views upon others but on the contrary 
strove as much as possible to be gay and lively. There was a slight dash 
of what is generally called superstition in Mr. Lincoln's mind. He evi- 
dently believed that the perceptions were sometimes more unerring than 
reason and outstripped it. I can't say that he fully believed in presenti- 
ments, but he undoubtedly had gloomy forebodings as to himself. He told 
me after his election that he did not count confidentially on living to get 
through with the task set before him, and I did not think that he appre- 
hended death in the natural way; still I do not believe that he took any 
precautions to guard against danger. I met him once, coming alone from 
the War Office to the White House, and remarked to him that I thought he 
was exposing himself to danger of assassination. He replied that no pre- 
cautions he could take would be availing if they were determined to kill 
him. I rode out with him that evening to the Soldiers' House, when he was 
accompanied by an escort of cavalry; on the way he said that the escort 
was rather forced upon him by the military men, that he could see no 
certain protection against assassination if it was determined to take away 
his life. He said it seemed to him like putting up the gaps in only one 
place when the fence was down all along. Mr. Lincoln was pre-eminently 
humane. He said to me once that Ould, the rebel commissioner for ex- 
changes, had just notified them that he had put 16,000 of the men paroled 
at Vicksburg into the field without exchanging. "Now," said he, "these men 
are liable to be put to death when recaptured, for breach of parole. If 
we do not do something of that sort, this outrage will be repeated on every 
occasion. What would you do under such circumstances?" "Well," said I, 
"that is too big a question for me." "It is indeed a serious question/' said 
Mr. Lincoln, "and I have been more sorely tried by it than any other 
that has occurred during the war. It will be an act of great injustice to 
our soldiers to allow the paroled rebels to be put into the field without 
exchange. Such a practice would demoralize almost any army in the world 
if played off upon them. It would be nearly impossible to induce them to 
spare the lives of prisoners they might capture. On the other hand," said 
he, "these men were no doubt told by their superiors that they had been 
exchanged and it would be hard to put them to death under such circum- 
stances. On the whole," said he, "my impression is that mercy bears richer 
fruits than any other attribute." Mr. Lincoln was capable of immense 
physical and mental labor. His mind and body were in perfect harmony. 
He was very powerful physically. He was reputed to be one of the best 
wrestlers in the country. The first time I saw hiyn was in 1832 in the cant- 


paign, against Black Hawk. He was engaged in wrestling with a man 
named Dow Thompson from St. Clair County. The latter was the cham- 
pion of the southern part of the State., while Lincoln was put up as the 
champion from the north. I never heard Mr. Lincoln complain of heing 
fatigued. I think he was an utter stranger, in the early part of his life 
at least, to the feeling. I have heard him regret while he was President 
that it was impossible for him to give audience to all who wished to see 
him, and I do not think that he was disengaged for an instant, from the 
time he assumed the Presidential office until his death, from the considera- 
tion of public affairs, except when he was asleep. He was not in the habit 
of idolizing particular men, and you would seldom hear him sounding the 
praises of anyone. He admired Mr. Clay and Mr. Webster and had great 
respect for General Taylor. Of all men in the South (of those who dif- 
fered from him on the slavery question, I mean), Mr. Stephens of Georgia 
was his favorite. I have frequently heard him speak in very respectful 
terms of Stephens. On the other hand he never manifested any bitter 
hatred towards his enemies. It was enough for him in a controversy to get 
the better of his adversary in argument without descending to personal 
abuse. He had not a particle of envy in his nature. I recollect his telling 
me once that he went to Cincinnati to attend to a patent case. He was 
expected to take the lead in the management of the suit but to be assisted 
by a young lawyer of that city. He said he prepared himself, as he thought, 
thoroughly and flattered himself that he knew something of mechanics but 
said: "When I came to compare notes with my young associate, I found 
that I knew nothing/' Said he: "I told my client that my associate could 
lose all I knew and not miss it, and I insisted that he should take the lead." 
It required no effort on his part to admit another man's superiority, and 
his admission that General Grant was right and he was wrong about op- 
erations at Vicksburg was not intended for effect as some suppose but was 
perfectly in character. I am unable to call to mind any expression from 
Mr. Lincoln of a preference for one article of diet over another. I should 
judge that he was totally indifferent on that head. Mr. Lincoln had an 
astonishing memory. I never found it at fault. He could recall every in- 
cident of his life, particularly if anything amusing was connected with 
it. Mr. Lincoln used anecdotes as labor-saving contrivances. He could con- 
vey his ideas on any subj ect through the form of a simple story or homely 
illustration with better effect than any man I ever knew. To illustrate: I 
was talking with him once about State sovereignty. He said the advocates 
of that theory always reminded him of the fellow who contended that the 
proper place for the big kettle was inside of the little one. There is one 
little incident in the political life of Mr. Lincoln which perhaps ought to 


be explained, as it has been charged by some against him as an act of 
dereliction of duty; and that was his jumping out of a window, to avoid 
voting as a member of the Legislature. The facts were these: Governor 
Carlin convened the Legislature of 1 840-41 by proclamation, two weeks 
earlier than it would have met under the Constitution. At the previous ses- 
sion an act had been passed legalizing the suspension of specie payments 
by the bank until the end of the next session of the general assembly. 
On the morning of the last day of the first two weeks of the session, as we 
supposed, it was ascertained that the Democrats had determined to ad- 
journ sine die, make those two weeks a distinct session, at the end of which 
the bank would be compelled to resume specie payments or forfeit its char- 
ter* The Whigs believed that this step would be not only unfair to the 
bank, which had had no notice of or made any preparation for such a pro- 
ceeding, and that it would benefit only the banks of other States, which 
held the paper of our bank, by enabling them to draw its specie for its 
bills which they held while it could get nothing from them on their bills 
which it held and that the loss or the depreciation of our bank circulation 
would fall principally upon our citizens who were holders of small sums. 
The Whigs determined if possible to prevent the sine die adjournment, 
knowing that the Constitution would convene the Legislature on the fol- 
lowing Monday. It required a quorum to adjourn sine die. Less than a 
quorum could adjourn from day to day. As the Constitution then stood, 
it was necessary to have two members to call the ayes and nays to show 
that a quorum was not voting. If the Whigs absented themselves, there 
would not be a quorum left even with the two who should be deputed to 
call the ayes and nays. The Whigs immediately held a meeting and re- 
solved that they would all stay out except Lincoln and me, who were to 
call the ayes and nays. We appeared in the afternoon, motion to adjourn 
sine die was made, and we called the ayes and nays. The Democrats dis- 
covered the game, and the sergeant-at-anns was sent out to gather up the 
absentees. There was great excitement in the House, which was then held 
in a church in Springfield. We soon discovered that several Whigs had been 
caught and brought in and that the plan had been spoiled, and we, Lincoln 
and I, determined to leave the hall and, going to the door, found it locked, 
and then raised a window and jumped out but not until the Democrats 
had succeeded in adjourning. Mr. Gridley of McLean accompanied us in 
our exit. The result of this operation was jnst as we anticipated. The bank 
resumed and paid out nearly all of its specie to banks and brokers in other 
States while not a cent could be obtained from them, as the banks every- 
where had been authorized to suspend specie payments. In a few weeks 
the folly of the course of the majority became apparent, and they them- 


selves introduced a bill again legalizing a suspension but it was too late. 
Our bank had been too much weakened and it went under at the general 
resumption of specie payments. I think Mr. Lincoln always regretted that 
he entered into the arrangement, as he deprecated everything that savored 
of the revolutionary. In politics Mr. Lincoln was before all things in 
favor of perfect equality. He consequently detested aristocracy in all its 
forms and loved our government and its founders almost to idolatry. He 
was for a national currency, internal improvements by the general govern- 
ment, and the encouragement of home manufactures. On this latter subject 
I have heard him make arguments greatly more powerful and convincing 
than anything I have ever heard or read. 

This is a hasty sketch of what I remember concerning Mr. Lincoln. 
If my attention should be directed to any particulars, I might be able to 
recall other things and shall take great pleasure in answering any calls 
you may make on me. Let me hear from you often. If I can be the means 
of imparting any information touching the life of a truly good and great 
man, I shall be supremely gratified. I feel proud of his fame as I have 
ever regarded him as the genuine product of American institutions. 

Yours truly, 


Chicago, December 9, 1866. 
Dear Sir: 

Your favor of the <5th is received. In reply I have to say, Mr, Lincoln 
was my associate first in the trial of three cases vs. Grace Lawson in 1845 
for fraud and misrepresentations, in the sale of land. The cases were 
severely contested. Messrs. Butterfield and Collins and Edw. Baker, Esqsu, 
being counsel for defendant. Mr. Lincoln in closing the case made the best 
jury argument I ever heard him make. Judge Pope said it was one of the 
best he ever heard. 

The case of Parker vs. Hoyt was for infringement of a patent water- 
wheel. My recollection is it was commenced in 1 846 or '47 ; Mr. Lincoln 
was employed for the defendant. It was for trial in June 1848. There was 
some technical error in the notices of the matter in dispute and on motion 
of the plaintiff most of the defendant's evidence was excluded and defeat 
seemed inevitable. At that time a term of the United States District Court 
was held at Chicago on the first Monday of July. The only way of saving 
the case was to get it over to the term at Chicago, by which time would be 


secured to correct the error in the notices. Motions were made on both 
sides which involved numerous questions new to the counsel and court, as 
very few patent cases had then been tried in that court* The time occupied 
in this discussion was so extended that the case had to be transferred to 
Chicago for trial. 

The testimony was procured, but under the rulings of the Court was 
excluded for the main purpose for which it was offered, but was admitted 
for another purpose. We placed great reliance on an elder patent to 
establish the want of novelty in the invention of the plaintiff. The case 
was prosecuted with great zeal and ability, and the trial lasted for several 
days. Mr. Lincoln took a great interest in the case. He had tended a saw- 
mill for some time and was able in his argument to explain the action of 
the water upon the wheel, in a manner so clear and intelligible that the 
jury was enabled to comprehend the points and the line of defense. It was 
evident he had carried the jury with him, in a most masterly argument 
the force of which could not be broken by the reply of the opposing coun- 
sel. But the Court was evidently impressed with the conviction that the 
plaintiff should recover, and charged on every material point for the 
plaintiff and in effect told the jury that the prior patent on which we so 
much relied was no defense. 

After the jury had retired, Mr. Lincoln became very anxious and un- 
easy. The jury was in another building, the windows of which opened on 
the street. They had been out for some two hours. In passing along the 
street, one of the jury on whom we had very much relied, he being a very 
intelligent man and firm in his convictions, held up to him one finger. Mr. 
Lincoln became very much excited, fearing it indicated that eleven of the 
jury were against him. He was assured that if this man was for him, he 
would never yield his opinion. He replied, if he was like a juryman he 
had in Tazewell County, the defendant was safe. That he was there em- 
ployed to prosecute a suit for a divorce. His client was a very pretty, re- 
fined, interesting woman in court. The defendant was a rotten, gross, 
morose, garrulous, fault-finding, cross, and uncomfortable person, en- 
tirely unfitted for the husband of such a woman. And though he was able 
to prove the use of very offensive and vulgar epithets applied by him to 
his wife, and all sorts of annoyances, but no such acts of personal violence 
assigned by the statute to justify a divorce. He did the best he could and 
appealed to the jury to have compassion on the woman and not bind her 
to such a man and such a life as awaited her as the wife of such a man. The 
jury took about the same view of it in their deliberations. They desired to 
find for her but could find no evidence which would really justify a verdict 
for her, and drew up a verdict for the defendant and all signed but one, 


who, when asked to do so, said: "Gentlemen, I am going to lie down to 
sleep and when you get ready to give a verdict for that woman, wake me 
up, for before I will give a verdict against her, I will be here until I rot 
and the pismires carry me out of the keyhole." "Now/* said Mr. Lincoln, 
"if that juryman will stick like that man, we are safe." 

In a short time the jury came in with a verdict for the defendant. He 
always regarded this as one of the most gratifying triumphs of his pro- 
fessional life. He was afterwards employed in one or two other patent 
suits, but they never came to a final trial. He had a great deal of mechanical 
genius, could understand readily the principles and mechanical action of 
machinery, and had the power in his clear simple illustrations and style to 
make the jury comprehend them. 

The most important case he ever had and the one in which his powers 
were exhibited with most advantage, was the Rock Island Bridge case. 
Hon. N. B. Judd was attorney in that case. 

And now, friend Herndon, I have complied with your request, imper- 
fectly it is true, but as well as I could. You will admit that, while I say I 
have none but the tenderest feelings for you, you have never given me 
occasion to entertain any others. I therefore, as your friend, and the friend 
of Mr, Lincoln, propose to say a few things, prompted by that friendship, 
but which I know the vanity of all men rebel against. 

First, in my opinion you are the last man who ought to attempt to write 
a Life of Abraham Lincoln. Your long and intimate association with him 
unfits you for the task. No one holding the intimate relations to another 
which you did to him ever has succeeded. There may be exceptions, but I 
cannot now remember one. They are mere eulogists, or having known him, 
in other conditions than on those fields, those departments, where his fame 
was won, he regards and exhibits him in those humble and different as- 
pects and characteristics in which the public have no taste, and which 
bring him down from the high [point?] of his triumphs, [undeciphered] 
him down everyday affairs of life which are stale and insipid to the public. 
To enter into the private everyday life of ordinary or extraordinary men 
can only be made endurable to readers, or safe to the fame of the subject, 
with the most discriminating taste and art; and no one is safe to under- 
take it, without much practice, and knowledge of the public taste. Again, 
contact with great men always dispels something of the awe with which 
they are contemplated at a distance. In intimate association, we fix upon 
some characteristic or peculiarity and fail to catch other lineaments. We 
can only regard them as the kind friend, amusing companion, and gen- 
erous mind. In the distance we see the bold outline of the mountain; its 


summits wrapped in sunshine, or swathed in cloud; when we approach 
it, we catch a view of the deep, it may be dark gorges, the rugged cliffs, 
the lean rocks, and distorted outlines. So in the characters of our dearest 
friends. See how Boswell with all his literary abilities failed in his Life of 
Johnson. No blow so severe was ever struck at Johnson. Think of these 

If I am to judge of what your production will be by the publication of a 
portion of your Salem lectures, I am more solicitous still. I fear you did 
not realize what an injury and injustice you did to the memory of your 
dear friend and mortification you caused his friends, but especially his 
widow and children. Ask yourself, if he was living, whether he would not 
have revolted at the uncovering to the public gaze that drama of his life ? 
And shall his friends exhibit what we know he would have preserved in 
sacred privacy? If the facts are truly stated, I should as soon think of ex- 
posing his dead body, uncoffined, to the vulgar gaze of the public eye. It 
should never have been dug up from the grave, when time had buried it. 

Besides, your style is not well adapted to such an undertaking. The want 
of practice is palpable. Your style is purely legal, such an one as is ac- 
quired by drawing legal documents and pleadings, and is decidedly differ- 
ent from our form by familiarity with the best writers. It is rugged, abound- 
ing in adjectives and explications, full of climaxes and hard dry words. It 
reads as if it had been jerked out word by word; it gives one the sense you 
have in riding in a lumber wagon over a frozen road, or the noise made in 
machinery when a cog has been broken. 

Now, my friend, I have spoken plainly, but sincerely. I may da you 
injustice, but it is not intentional. I may lose your friendship by it, but 
I have only done what I would wish one to do to me under the same circum- 
stances. And I have observed, in myself and others, that the very points 
in which strength is supposed, are the very points of weakness. 

I am yours, etc., 

Springfield, Itt. 9 December 10, 1866. 
Mr. Goodrich. 

I thank you for the first part of your letter giving me an account 
of the patent case which Mr. Lincoln "tended" to. I say I thank you 
for it. As to the second part of your letter, I guess I shall have to 
treat you as Lincoln always did treat you, as an exceedingly weak- 


headed brother. The more he kicked you, the closer you clung to him. 
Do you remember? Analyze yourself. 

Yours truly, 
W. H. 


Washington, December 11, 1866. 
Respected Friend: 

I have been trying very hard to obtain a file of papers for you but I fear 
I shall have to give it up. (I had hoped to get files owned by private indi- 
viduals.) The Washington Star contains the fullest account of the entry of 
Mr. Lincoln in the city of Washington in 1861. The gentleman that re- 
ported for it is a friend of mine and is entirely reliable and he says that 
he had an interview with Mr. Lincoln when he first arrived here in '61. It 
will be necessary to employ a person to copy such parts of the Star and 
other papers as may seem required for your work. I would copy them my- 
self but I cannot possibly find time, besides Mrs. L. is very sick with 
pneumonia. If it is your wish, I will employ a person to copy such parts of 
the Star and other papers as you may require at once. I will state an 
anecdote that came under my observation. In 1862 there was considerable 
said about the Yazoo River expedition. Mr. Lincoln one evening at the 
White House was suffering with pain caused by the extraction of a "raging 
tooth/* Pete Halstead, several others, and myself called on Mr. Lincoln 
and found him out of the room which he generally occupied. We sat down in 
the private Secretary's room and remained there some minutes when Mr. 
Lincoln, hearing our voices, came in and sat down (just as he used to in 
the office in Springfield), and notwithstanding the pain that afflicted him, 
chatted humorously with here and there a flash of real logic that showed 
that he comprehended the situation. The Yazoo River expedition received 
his attention ; he said by the way of preamble that he found it necessary to 
yield here a little and there a little in order to keep peace in the family and 
that if he interfered in a plan that was not essential, vital, the West 
Pointers, i.e., the regular officers who had the execution of all plans, would 
in some way or other obstruct or defeat the execution of his scheme ; there- 
fore, inasmuch as they had to be depended upon at last, he found it best to 
trust them at first and rely on events and the power of persuasion to rectify 
errors. In regard to the Yazoo River expedition, he said (pointing to the 
map ; this was a large map which hung in his room which he often referred 
to) : "How can a force go down a river that is only a few rods wide when 
it cannot get down a river that is a mile wide? And if it could, it would 


only wind about and come out into the same river that it is contended by 
the military officers you cannot pursue the Mississippi and for this 
reason you wish to leave the Mississippi about Vicksburg. This expedition 
proposes to follow the Yazoo and come out in the Mississippi. What have 
you accomplished ? You have gained nothing. I can't better make this clear 
than by relating an incident that came under my own observation. There 
was a man in Illinois a good many years since that was troubled with an 
old sow and her pigs ; again and again the old man and his sons drove her 
out and repeatedly found her in the lot. One day he and his boys searched 
about and found that she got into the lot through a certain hollow log that 
had been placed in the fence ; they took out this log and built up the fence 
by placing the log a little differently than before, and the next day, what 
was the astonishment of the old lady to find that she and her litter came out 
of the log outside of the field instead of inside. It is just so with the Yazoo 
River expedition/' said Mr. L. "It comes out of the same side of the log." 
This little story, it seems to me, illustrates the fact that Mr. L. compre- 
hended military problems far better than was generally supposed. I will 
endeavor from time to time to arrange little incidents that I was an eye- 
witness of, or collect such anecdotes that have not yet been published as 
may seem to be of some service to you. If you should desire to have a faith- 
ful likeness engraved of Mr. Lincoln, I may be of some service. I am now 
painting General Grant in oil and expect to publish his picture in pure line 
engraving, the head of which will be six inches long. I expect also to 
paint a life-size head of Mr. Lincoln which I will have engraved if I can 
bring it about. It is quite doubtful if there is a living artist that has such 
varied and serviceable remembrances of the good man as your humble 
servant. When your book is ready for publication, I may put you on track 
of good houses in New York or elsewhere. Please write me at your earliest 
convenience, and if you desire it, I will set a man to copying the points you 
require at once. I should esteem it a great favor if you would favor me with 
a copy of your lecture on the courtship^ etc., of Mr. Lincoln. 

Affectionately yours, 



Natick, Mass., May SO, 1867. 
My dear Sir : 

In looking over my papers, I find a letter of yours of the 20th of August 
last requesting me to give you my ideas of Mr. Lincoln's character as a man 


and a public officer. With this letter, I find another letter of yours dated 
December 21, I860, in answer to a letter of mine asking you to give me 
your opinion of the President just elected. In this letter to me you say of 
Mr. Lincoln what more than four years of observation confirmed. After 
stating that you had been his law partner for sixteen years, and his most 
intimate and bosom friend all that time, you say: "I know him better than 
he does himself. I know this seems a lie/ but I will risk the assertion. 
Mr. Lincoln is a man of heart, was as gentle as a woman's and as tender, 
but he has a will as strong as iron. He therefore loves all mankind, hates 
slavery, every form of despotism. Put these together love for the slave 
and a determination, a will, that justice, strong and unyielding, shall be 
done, where he has got a right to act and you can form your own con- 
clusion. Lincoln will fail here; namely, if a question of political economy, 
if any question, comes up which is doubtful, questionable, which no man 
can demonstrate, then his friends can rule him; but when on justice, right, 
liberty, the government and Constitution, Union, humanity, then you may 
all stand aside ; he will rule them and no man can move him, no set of men 
can. There is no fail here. This is Lincoln, and you mark what I say. You 
and I must keep the people right; God will keep Lincoln right. Don't you 
fear, Mr. Wilson; I have conversations with him, but am not authorized 
to speak." 

These words of yours made a deep impression upon my mind, and I came 
to love and trust him even before I saw him. After an acquaintance of more 
than four years, I found that your idea of him was in all respects correct, 
that he was the loving, tender, firm, and just man you represented him to 
be, while upon some questions in which moral elements did not so clearly 
enter he was, perhaps, too easily influenced by others. As Chairman of the 
Military Committee, I had nearly fifteen thousand nominations of his to 
act upon and was often consulted by him in regard to nominations, and also 
the legislation for the army, and I had the best opportunity to see him 
under all circumstances. I saw him often under the most trying circum- 
stances at the War Department by day, and by night too, and I had the 
best possible opportunities to study and judge him, and I can truly say 
that your description of this loving, tender, true, just man was a correct 

Mr. Lincoln was a genuine democrat in feeling, sentiment, and action. 
How patiently and considerately he listened, amid the terrible pressure 
of public affairs, to the people that thronged his ante-room. I remember 
calling upon him one day during the war on pressing business. The ante- 
room was crowded with men and women seeking admission. He seemed 
oppressed, care-worn, weary. I said to him: "Mr. President, you are too 


exhausted to see this throng waiting to see you, you will wear yourself out, 
and you ought not to see these people today." He replied with one of those 
smiles in which sadness seemed to mingle: "They don't want much and 
they don't get but little, and I must see them." 

During the war his heart was oppressed and his life burdened with the 
conflict between the tenderness of his nature and what seemed to be the 
imperative demands of duty. In the darkest hours of the conflict desertions 
were frequent, and army officers urgently pressed the execution of the 
sentence of the law, but it was with the greatest effort he would bring him- 
self to consent to the execution of the judgments of the military tribunals. 
I remember walking early one Sabbath morning with a wounded Irish 
officer who came to Washington to say that a soldier who had been 
sentenced to be shot in a day or two for desertion had fought bravely by 
his side in battle. I told him that we had come to ask him to pardon the 
poor soldier. After a few moments' reflection he said: "My officers tell me 
the good of the service demands the enforcement of the law, but it makes 
my heart ache to have this poor boy shot. I will pardon him, and then you 
will join in blaming me for it. You all censure me for granting pardons, 
and yet you all ask me to do so." No man ever had a more loving and 
tender nature than Mr. Lincoln. 

He was, as you say, a firm man where he clearly saw duty, but most 
earnest, devoted, and ablest friends in and out of Congress pressed him 
for months to issue a declaration of emancipation, but he could not be 
coaxed nor driven into action till he saw the time had come to do it. His 
firmness was again tried after he wrote the letter to Mr. Clay and other 
rebels in Canada, the time of Mr. Greeley's mission. Our timid politicians 
were alarmed. The Democratic Convention at Chicago was about to meet. 
Some of our most active men hurried on to Washington to induce him to 
write another letter modifying the other. Learning this, I hurried to 
Washington, saw these timid leaders about the White House, and made an 
appointment in the evening with Mr. Lincoln. When the time came, I said 
to him that I had come to Washington to say to him that I believed it would 
be fatal to us if he qualified his letter, that the letter would be great 
strength in the canvass, that it had given great confidence to the anti- 
slavery men, and they would determine the result. He spoke of the pressure 
upon him, of the condition of the country, of the possible action of the 
coming Democratic Convention, and of the uncertainty of the election, in 
tones of sadness. After discussing for a long time these matters, he said 
with great calmness and firmness : "I do not know what the result may be, 
we may be defeated, we may fail, but we will go down with our principles. 
I will not modify, qualify, nor retract my proclamation, nor my letter." I 


can never forget his measured tones, nor words, nor cease to feel that his 
firmness, amid the pressure of active friends, saved our cause in 1864, 

Yours truly, 


Chicago, III., August 29, 1887. 
My dear Sir: 

Your inquiry in reference to the circumstances of the appointment of 
David Davis, as one of the Justices of the Supreme Court, reached me last 
evening. In reply I beg leave to recall the fact that, in 1860, the politicians 
of Illinois were divided into three divisions, which were represented in the 
Decatur Convention by the votes on the nomination for Governor. The 
largest vote was for Norman B. Judd, of Chicago, his strength in the main 
being the northern part of the State. I was next in order of strength, and 
Yates the third, but the divisions were not materially unequal. The result 
was, Yates was nominated, Yates's strength being about Springfield and 
Jacksonville, extending to Quincy on the west, and mine was at Blooming- 
ton and vicinity, and south and southeast. 

These divisions were kept up awhile after Mr. Lincoln's election and 
were considered in the distribution of Federal patronage. A vacancy in the 
United States Senate occurred early in 1861 by the death of Stephen A. 
Douglas, and Governor Yates appointed O. H. Browning of Quincy to fill 
the vacancy. There was also a vacancy upon the Supreme bench of the 
United States to be filled from this general vicinity by Mr. Lincoln in the 
early part of his administration, and Judge Davis of Bloomington, and Mr. 
Browning of Quincy, were both aspirants for the position. Mr. Browning 
had the advantage that Lincoln was new in his seat, and Senators were 
august personages, and, being in the Senate, and a most courteous and able 
gentleman, Mr. Browning succeeded in securing nearly all the Senatorial 
strength, and Mr. Lincoln was nearly swept off his feet by the current of 
influence. Davis's supporters were the circuit court lawyers, mainly in the 
eastern and central part of the State. These lawyers were at home, and 
their presence was not a living force felt constantly by the President at 

I was then living at Bloomington and met Judge Davis every day. As 
months elapsed, we used to get word from Washington in reference to the 
condition of things ; finally one day the word came that Mr. Lincoln had 
said: "I do not know what I may do when the time comes, but there has 


never been a day when, if I had to act then, I should not have appointed 
Mr. Browning." 

Judge Davis, General Orme, and myself held a consultation in my law 
office at Bloomington ; we decided that the remark was too Lincolnian to be 
mistaken, and no man but he could have put the situation so quaintly. We 
decided also that the appointment was gone and sat there glum over the 
situation. I finally broke the silence, saying in substance: "The appoint- 
ment is gone ; I am going home to pack my carpet-sacks for Washington." 
"No, you are not," said Davis. "Yes, I am," was my reply, "Lincoln is be- 
ing swept off his feet by the influence of these Senators and I will have the 
luxury of one talk with him before he acts." 

I did go home, and two days thereafter, in the morning about seven 
o'clock, for I knew Mr. Lincoln's habits well, was at the door of his room 
at the White House and spent most of the forenoon with him. I tried to im- 
press upon him that he had been brought into prominence by the circuit 
court lawyers of the old Eighth Circuit, headed by Judge Davis. "If Judge 
Davis with his tact and his force had not lived, and all other things had 
been as they were, I believe you would not be sitting now where you are 
sitting." He replied: "I guess that is so." "Now," I said, "it is the common 
law of mankind that one raised into prominence is expected to recognize 
the force that lifts him, or, if from a pinch, the force that lets him out. The 
Czair Nicholas was once attacked by an assassin, a kindly hand warded off 
the blow and saved his life. The Czar hunted out the owner of that hand 
and strewed his pathway with flowers through life. The Emperor Napo- 
leon III has hunted out everybody who even tossed him a biscuit in his 
prison at Ham, and has made him rich. Here is Judge Davis, whom you 
know to be in every respect qualified for this position, and you ought in 
justice to yourself and public expectation to give him this place." We had 
an earnest pleasant forenoon, and I thought I had the best of the argument 
and I think he thought so too. 

I left him and went to Willard's Hotel to think over the interview, and 
there a new thought struck me. I therefore wrote a letter to Mr. Lincoln 
and returned to the White House. Getting in, I read it to him and left it 
with him. It was in substance that he might think, if he gave Davis this- 
place, he, when he got to Washington, would not give him any peace until 
he gave me a place equally good. That I recognized the fact that he could 
not give this place to Davis, which would be charged to the Bloomington 
faction in our State politics, and then give me anything I would have [ to] 
be just to the party there; that this appointment, if made, should "kill two 
birds with one stone" ; that I would accept it as one-half for me, and one- 
half for the judge; and after that, if I or any of my friends ever troubled 


him, he could draw that letter as a plea in bar, on that subject. As I read it, 
Lincoln said: "If you mean that among friends, as it reads, I will take it 
and make the appointment/' 

He then made a request of the judge after his appointment, in reference 
to continuance of a clerk in his circuit, and wrote to him a notice of the 
appointment which he received the same afternoon I returned to Blooming- 
ton. Judge Davis was about fifteen years my senior. I had come to his circuit 
at the age of twenty-four, and between him and Lincoln I had grown up, 
leaning in hours of weakness on their own great arms for support. I was 
glad of the opportunity to put in the mite of my claims upon Lincoln and 
give it to Davis and have been glad I did it every day since. 

An unknown number of people have almost every week since, speaking 
perhaps extravagantly, asked me in a quasi-confidential manner, how was 
it that you and Lincoln were so intimate and he never gave you anything? 
I have generally said: "It seems to me that is my question, and so long as 
I don't complain I do not see why you should." I may be pardoned also for 
saying that I have not considered every man not holding an office out of 
place in life. I got my eyes open on this subj ect before I got an office, and 
as in Washington I saw the Congressman in decline, I prayed that my lat- 
ter end might not be like his. 

Yours truly, 



Sonora, Ky. f July 81, 1889. 
Dear Sir: 

While living in Hodgenville there came a man from Illinois who said 
that it was reported in that State that Abe Enloe was Abe Lincoln's father. 
I heard the question put to old Uncle Abe Enloe by my brother-in-law Mr. 
A. H, Redman. There was another gentleman present, Dr. W. H. Holt. 
Redman asked if it was true that he, Abe Enloe, was Abe's father. The old 
man drew himself up to his full height some six feet three inches and 
stroked his long white beard and remarked that it was an honor to be proud 
of to even to be thought to be the father of a President and one that had 
risen by his own merits to hold the proud position of President of these 
United States. "But," said he, "I was only fifteen years old when Abe was 
born." "Then," said Redman, "you could not have been, being at that time 
only fourteen years old when he was begotten." "Now," said Uncle Abe, 
"not too fast, for I passed into puberty at fourteen years and could have 
been his father at that age as easily as at any time from that until the pres- 


ent moment. Now to set the matter forever at rest, I will say I never put my 
hand on her naked flesh on any part of her body save her hands, and never 
in my life had carnal intercourse with her. And further, I believe that he 
was the son of Thomas Lincoln. I think all this grew out of his name being 
the same as mine, but I can account for that name; his grandfather was 
named Abraham Lincoln. The grandfather was killed by the Indians on 
Salt River not far from where now stands Shepherds ville at an old salt 
works. I will further say that, if he is not Thomas Lincoln's son, he was 
the son of Charles Friend, this boy's grandfather" pointing at your cor- 
respondent "or William Cessna or George Brownfield; his long bony 
body seems to point to the Brownfields more strongly as they were all long, 
bony people often over six and a half feet in height." The reason I think he 
might be a son of Charles Friend is that Nancy Hanks's, Abe's mother's, 
first child, Dennis F., was by Charles Friend but his shape does not point to 
that family, as they were a short thick heavy-set people and the Cessnas 
are of the same shape, being closely related to the Friends. You ask me a 
question, was he, Thomas Lincoln, castrated ? I heard a cousin of my father, 
Judge Jonathan Friend Cessna, say that his father William Cessna said 
that Thomas Lincoln could not have been Abe's father for one of Thomas's 
testicles was not larger than a pea or perhaps both of them were no larger 
than peas; and "Uncle Fillie Cessna" said he believed that Abe was my 
uncle and he based this reason on the fact that Nancy Hanks's first child, 
Dennis Hanks, was Charles Friend's boy. Be that as it may, let it go. Now 
whose son was Dennis Friend Hanks? There never was but one Hanks 
family in this county (Hardin), and they were all sisters. Mary or Polly 
who married Thomas Sparrow, Elizabeth or Betsey who married Jesse 
Friend, Nancy who married Thomas Lincoln. When Charles Friend mar- 
ried my grandmother Sallie Huss, he told her that he had a son by Nancy 
Hanks and she told him to get the boy away [ ?] so and Dennis stayed with 
his father until Sparrow and the other families left here for Indiana and 
Illinois. Uncle Dennis asked grandfather if he might go with him, and 
Thomas Sparrow and the old people gave their consent. My grandmother 
told me the facts. 



Sonora> Hardin County, Ky. f August W, 1889. 
Dear Sir: 

Yours of the 10th inst. received ten o'clock this morning. Where could 
have been ? There never were but one family of Hanks in this county that 



I ever heard of and they were all women; I never heard anything against 
the women except Nancy. Judge J. F. Cessna, cousin of my father, told me 
that Uncle Isaac Friend was once in love with her and at a party at night 
after a log rolling in the day he (Isaac) was laying with his head in her 
lap and swore that he felt the child kick in her belly when talking to the 
boys about the matter. Later he learned that his brother Charles Friend 
had done the work for her, Dennis Friend Hanks was the boy that did the 
kicking wfcich kicked Uncle Isaac out of marrying her. I have written 
Uncle Dennis several times and asked him what relation he had to Presi- 
dent Lincoln, and he will never answer it. The first letter he ever wrote 
me, he said: "My mother was a Hanks; she says your grandfather was my 
father; this don't doubt." Every old person that I ever talked to on the 
subject agree by saying that Nancy Hanks, Dennis's mother, was A. Lin- 
coln's mother, 

Nancy Hanks married Thomas Lincoln 
Betsey " " Thomas Sparrow 

Polly " " Jesse Friend 

" LeviHaU 

These women were all sisters. Uncle Jesse Friend moved from here 
to Paris, Illinois, and died there. One of his daughters married a Mr. Hat- 
field and returned to Kentucky. Thomas Sparrow raised Uncle Dennis. 
A. Lincoln calling Dennis cousin can be accounted for easy enough. In this 
county all bastard children are taught to call their mothers "aunt/* and of 
course he would naturally call Lincoln cousin. I have asked Dennis if his 
mother was not a sister to Betsey Sparrow. If they were, there would have 
to be two Nancys, sisters in one family, which I cannot believe. I know I am 
right. . . . 

I will say here I saw the remains of President Lincoln "in state" at 
Indianapolis, and if anyone had taken me to the coffin and said: "There lies 
your friend George Brownfield, Jr.," I would have sworn before any jury 
that it was he, if I had not known better, the resemblance was that close. 
Judge Jonathan Friend Cessna told that his father William Cessna told 
him that one if not both of Thomas Lincoln's testicles were not larger than 
a pea; he, William Cessna, also said that Charles Friend was father of 
Dennis, a half, if not a whole, brother of A. Lincoln. He did not believe 
it possible that Thomas could have been his father. During the war LaRue 
County sent Dr. J. H. Rodman to Washington to see the President to have 
the number of men corrected that was called for from the county under 
the draft. He sent up his card and Mr. Lincoln sent word to Dr. Rodman 
that he would see him. Rodman said that there was men there waiting to 


see the President that had been there for weeks but could not get a glance. 
In course of the conversation Dr. Rodman told him that the county had 
sent him a nice cane from near where he was born and that he would send 
it up as soon as the silversmith put a gold head on it. Lincoln said: "How 
will I know who gave it to me?" Doctor said: "The names of the donors 
will be engraved on it to the President A. Lincoln." Abe said: "What a fool. 
I am like the Irishman that went to the Post Office; when the Postmaster 
asked his name, said : 'Faith aint my name on the lither ?' Of course my name 
will be on the cane/' President asked Dr. Rodman about the Cessnas, 
Brownfields, Friends, Ashcrafts, Kirkpatricks, and at last said: "Where is 
my old friend and playmate Austin Golliher ? . . ." 

Dr. J. H. Rodman said he seemed to know more about the general 
topography of the county than any person he ever saw, described any house 
and farm, hill, creek, and family that lived here when he was a boy. He, 
Lincoln, asked about an old storm house that stands on Nolan Creek about 
one and a half miles east of Hodgenville near a fine spring where the 
young people used to hold their dances. Reverend John Duncan, a Baptist 
preacher, told me that he and Abe used to go hunting both night and day 
and at one time they worked all one day trying to dig some kind of a 
"varmint" out of the ground. I guess the man you allude to is Abe's old 
friend Austin Golliher of LaRue County. He lives about twenty miles 
from here. He is the only person now living that knows anything about 
Lincoln or the Hankses. I could go and see him some day if it was not for 
the expense of going. I would visit him and get all he knows. He is very 
old and what is done must be done quickly as his days are few. 

Yours truly, 


Could you send me any of A. Lincoln's writing or his signature ? C. F. 

If you write a history, don't you think you ought to give me a copy ? Lucy 
Hanks, Nancy's mother, married Henry Sparrow as said; who did Levi 
Hall marry ? 


61 East 65th Street, New York, January 26, 1891. 
Dear Mr. Herndon : 

Your letter of the 25th is received. Mr. Villard has returned from 
Europe. His address at present is : Plaza Hotel, New York City. 

Mr. Hermann Kreismann, whom you will undoubtedly remember, came 
to this country with Mr. V. but he has gone back to Berlin, where he now 


resides. He has a fund of Lincoln reminiscences which it would be worth 
your while to tap. One of them is to this effect: That after L/s election as 
President, but before he had left Springfield, Judd and Kreismann went 
to Springfield on an important political errand and made an appointment 
to meet L., but he did not come and Kreismann dispatched to his house in 
quest of him. Arrived at the house he was ushered into a room where both 
Mr. and Mrs. L. were. The latter was on the floor in a sort of hysterical fit, 
caused by L/s refusal to promise the position of naval officer of New York 
Custom House to Isaac Henderson, who had sent a diamond brooch to a 
Springfield jeweler to be given to Mrs. L, in case she could secure the 
promise of this office. The fit continued until the promise had been obtained. 
Henderson was, in fact, appointed. He was afterwards indicted by the 
grand jury for defrauding the government, and tried before Judge Nelson, 
but was saved from conviction by some technicality. 

You must not use this on my narration. Indeed, it would be best not to 
use it at all. Kreismann has other reminiscences, but I don't know whether 
he could be prevailed on to write them out. Mr. Villard can give you his 
address. You remember he (K.) was appointed Secretary of Legation at 
Berlin when Judd was appointed Minister. 

Mr. Villard accompanied L. in his journey from Springfield to Washing- 
ton in the spring of 1861 ; i.e., in February, when he went to assume the 
office of President. He had also seen a good deal of L. in the campaign of 

With cordial good wishes, 

Ever your friend, 

8. Statements Collected ~by Herndon 


I was born in Kentucky on the ninth day of February 1802 in Nelson 
County in four miles of Beardstown. My father moved to Hardin County 
in 1806. I knew Abraham Lincoln in Kentucky. Abraham was known 
among the boys as a bashful, somewhat dull, but peaceable boy; he was 
not a brilliant boy, but worked his way by toil ; to learn was hard for him, 
but he walked slowly, but surely. He went to school to a man by the name 
of Hazel ; the school was but a short distance. Lincoln lived on the bank of 
Knob Creek, about a half-mile above the Rolling Fork, which empties into 
Salt River, which empties into Ohio River. Abraham Lincoln's mother and 
I were cousins. Abraham and I are second cousins. I knew Mrs. Nancy 
Lincoln, or Nancy Sparrow before marriage. She was a tall slender woman, 
dark-skinned, black hair and eyes, her face was sharp and angular, fore- 
head big. She was beyond all doubts an intellectual woman, rather extraor- 
dinary if anything. She was born in Mercer County, Kentucky, about 
1780; her nature was kindness, mildness, tenderness, obedience to her 
husband. Abraham was like his mother very much. She was a Baptist by 

My recollection in fact Abraham's father told me so that his great- 
grandfather was an Englishman, came from England and settled in Vir- 
ginia. This is the family reputation. When I was in Kentucky in 1864, I 
was shown a house in Mercer County which was said to be the house that 
Abraham's grandfather had built. I doubt the house, but I don't the farm, 
about ten miles from the mouth of Kubick River, about ten or twelve miles 
from Harrisburg, southeast from Harrodsburg. 

I knew Thomas Lincoln in Kentucky, knew him well. He was cabinet 
and house carpenter, farmed after he got married, still working at his 
trade. He was a man about five feet ten inches high, weighed about 180, 
eyes dark gray, hair black, a little stoop-shouldered, a good-humored man, 
a strong brave man, a very stout man, loved fun, j okes, and equaled Abe in 
telling stories. Happiness was the end of life with him. He, Thomas, was 
older than his wife, say about five years, being born about 1775. Thomas 
was born in Virginia ; so was his wife. Thomas was six years of age when 
he came to Kentucky. His father was killed by the Indians, as Dennis 
Hanks has said. The Indian story of Dennis Hanks is generally correct 
as told you by Dennis, so is Chapman's story generally correct. Thomas 



told me so. My father and Lincoln's were born in old Virginia in what is 
called the Rappahannock River. We knew each other in Virginia; that is, 
the founders did. Abraham's mother was my first cousin. Abraham's grand- 
mother was my father's sister. Abraham's grandfather and mother on his 
mother's side lived in Mercer County, Kentucky, about twenty miles south 
of Abraham's grandfather on his father's side, the one killed by the Indians. 
Dennis Hanks and I are cousins. Mr. Sparrow and Mrs. Sparrow never 
came to Illinois, They lived in Kentucky in Mercer County. Sparrow 
married my father's sister. Henry Sparrow was his name, lived and died 
in Mercer County, never came to Indiana. They came from old Virginia. 
All these families came from about the same county, can't say what county. 

Thomas Lincoln moved to Indiana in 1818, probably 1816, and settled in 
Spencer County, near what is now called Gentryville, Indiana. I stayed in 
Kentucky, did not come out when Dennis Hanks did. Dennis Hanks came 
out in about 1818. Mrs. Lincoln died, say in 1818, I think, and lies buried 
southeast of the Lincoln farm about a half-mile in a rise, knoll, or knob* 
She was buried by the side of Mr. Hall and his wife, as I understand it. 
I came out to Indiana in 1822 after Thomas Lincoln had married his 
second wife, and stayed in Indiana near to and with Thomas Lincoln for 
four years. I remember Abraham well in Indiana. He was then ten years of 
age, and fourteen years when I left Indiana and went back to Kentucky. I 
was, in 1822, twenty years. 

Abraham was farming when I got there and when I left and went to 
Kentucky, he went to school but little. He went to school to Dorsey or 
Swaney, I can't now say which. Old man Lincoln's house was a rough, 
rough log one, not a hewed one; his second one was sorter hewed, but is 
gone never standing in 1860. The third one was hewed logs that one was 
never occupied by Lincoln; it was up but not inhabited; the house stood 
east and west and faced the south, chimney on east end. It was, is, about 
four miles to Gentryville from the Lincoln farm, west of east a little. The 
house stood on a round hill, knoll, or knob. Lincoln's farm was on the forks 
of Big Pigeon and Little Pigeon. The Big Pigeon is north and the Little 
one south. 

When Lincoln, Abe, and I returned to the house from work, he would 
go to the cupboard, snatch a piece of corn bread, take down a book, sit down 
in a chair, cock his legs up as high as his head, and read. He and I worked 
bare-footed, grubbed it, plowed, mowed, and cradled together, plowed 
corn, gathered it, and shucked corn. Abraham read constantly when he had 
an opportunity; no newspapers then; had monthly meetings at church, 
sometimes at private houses. Abe went to church generally not always. 
I know he read Weems's Washington when I was there, got it wet it was 

From a Photograph by Brady 


Collection of 

Harry MacNeill Bland 



Collection of ' 
Harry MacNeill Bland [ 


on a kind of bookshelf close to the window the bookshelf was made by 
two pins in the wall and a clapboard on them, books on that. Lincoln got 
it of Crawford, told Crawford and paid it in pulling fodder by two or three 
days' work. He frequently read the Bible. He read Robinson Crusoe, Bun- 
yan's Pilgrim's Progress. Lincoln devoured all the books he could get or 
lay hands on; he was a constant and voracious reader. I never could get 
him in company with woman ; he was not a timid man in this particular, but 
did not seek such company. He was always full of his stories, as much so 
in Indiana as Illinois. He would go out in the woods and gather hickory 
bark, bring it home, and keep a light by it and read by it, when no lamp 
was to be had grease lamp handle to it which stuck in the crack of the 
wall. Tallow was scarce. Abraham was a good hearty eater, loved good 
eating. His own mother and stepmother were good cooks for their day and 
time. In the summer he wore tan linen pants and flax shirt and in the win- 
ter he wore linsey-woolsey, that is, during the time I was there. I have seen 
Lincoln Abraham make speeches to his stepbrothers, stepsisters, and 
youngsters that would come to see the family. 

I moved from Kentucky to Illinois in the fall of 1828 and settled where I 
now live four miles northwest of Decatur and built the first house in 
Decatur. I wrote to Thomas Lincoln what kind of a country it was; he 
came to this State the first day of March 1830 to my house. He then built 
ten miles west of Decatur, and about a hundred steps from the N.F. of 
Sangamon River and on the north side of it on a kind of bluff. The house, 
the logs of it, I cut myself in 1829 and gave them to old man Lincoln. The 
house set east and west, fronted south, chimney at west end, the same house 
which was shown in Chicago. Lincoln broke up fifteen acres of land. Abra- 
ham and myself split the rails ; he owned four yoke of oxen ; broke 'prairie in 
the summer; broke thirty acres for my brother; he broke prairie for others. 
Two yoke belonged to Thomas Lincoln and two to my brother. Dennis 
Hanks came out at the summer time. Mr. and Mrs. Hall Dennis Hanks 
married Abraham's stepsister, so did Hall. Abraham during the winter 
of 1830-31 walked three miles and made a thousand rails for Major War- 

I knew Abraham's own sister Sarah; she was a short-built woman, eyes 
dark gray, hair dark brown ; she was a good woman, kind, tender, and good- 
natured, and is said to have been a smart woman. That is my opinion. 

After Abraham got to Decatur, rather to Mercer, my county a man by 
the name of Posey came into our neighborhood and made a speech ; it was 
a bad one, and I said Abe could beat it. I turned down a box or keg, and 
Abe made his speech. TJhe other man was a candidate ; Abe wasn't. Abe beat 
him to death, his subject being the navigation of the Sangamon River. The 


man, after the speech was through, took Abe aside and asked him where 
he had learned so much and what he did so welL Abe explained, stating 
his manner and method of reading and what he had read; the man encour*- 
aged Lincoln to persevere. 

Offutt came to my house in February 1831 and wanted to hire me to run 
a flatboat for him, saying that he had heard that I was quite a flatboat man 
in Kentucky; he wanted me to go badly. I went and saw Abe and John 
Johnston, Abe's stepbrother; introduced Offutt to them. We made an en- 
gagement with Offutt at 50^ per day and $60 to make the trip to New 
Orleans. Abe and I came down the Sangamon River in a canoe on March 
1831, landed at what is now called and known as Jamestown five miles 
east of Springfield once called Judy's Ferry. We left our canoe in charge 
of Mr. Mann, walked afoot to Springfield, and found Offutt. He was at a 
tavern in Oldtown, probably Elliott's ; it was Elliott's. He, Offutt, expected 
to find his boat according to contract at the mouth of Spring Creek, five 
miles north of Springfield, got disappointed. Abe, Johnston, and myself 
went down to the mouth of Spring Creek and there cut the timbers to make 
the boat ; we were about two weeks cutting our timber suppose it was on 
Congress land. Abe walked afoot to Springfield, thence to Judy's Ferry, got 
the canoe, and floated it down to the mouth of Spring Creek, where the 
timber was cut; we then rafted the logs down to Sangamon River to what 
is called Sangamontown, seven miles northwest of Springfield. We boarded 
where we were working at the mouth of Spring Creek, walked one mile, eat 
two meals a day. When we got to Sangamontown we made a shanty, shed* 
Abe was elected cook. We sawed our lumber at Kirkpatrick's mill on Prairie 
Creek about one and a half miles southwest of Sangamontown. We hewed 
and sawed the timber at the mouth of Spring Creek. We finished making 
and launching the boat in about four weeks. We loaded the boat with barrel 
pork, corn, and live hogs, and left Sangamontown. I remember a juggler's 
show at Sangamontown. Abe went to it. Abe was full of jokes during all 
this time, kept us all alive. Offutt was a Whig, so was Lincoln, but he could 
not hear Jackson wrongfully abused especially where a lie and malice 
did the abuse. I can say that Abe never was a Democrat; he was always 
a Whig; so was his father before him. 

We landed at the New Salem- mill about April 19 and got fast on Rut- 
ledge's mill dam, now called Bill's mill dam. We unloaded the boat, that is, 
we changed goods from one boat to a borrowed one, rolled the barrels for- 
ward, bored a hole in the end of the boat over the dam water ran out and 
thus we got over ; on the dam part of a day and one night. We then went 
on down to the Yellow Bank or the Blue Banks on the Sangamon 
River near Squire Godby's about one mile above the mouth of Salt Creek. 


We purchased some hogs of, I think, Squire Godby am not sure tried to 
drive them, couldn't, ran them back in the pen, caught them, Abe held the 
head of them, I the tail, and Offutt sewed up their eyes, wouldn't drive, 
couldn't put them in a cart, carried them to the boat about one mile to the 
river. Abe received the hogs, cut open them. Johnston and I hauled them to 
Abe. We then proceeded, Offutt, John Johnston, Abe Lincoln, and myself, 
down the Sangamon River, thence into Illinois. We kept our victuals and 
in fact slept down in the boat, at one end ; went down by a kind of ladder 
through a scatter hole. We used plank as sails and cloth, sometimes, rushed 
through Beardstown in a hurry people came out and laughed at us 
passed Alton, Cairo, and stopped at Memphis, Vicksburg, Natchez, etc. 
There is nothing worthy of being known going down the river. 

I can say we soon say in May we landed in New Orleans. There it 
was we saw Negroes chained, maltreated, whipped, and scourged. Lincoln 
saw it, his heart bled, said nothing much, was silent from feeling, was sad, 
looked bad, felt bad, was thoughtful and abstracted. I can say knowingly 
that it was on this trip that he formed his opinions of slavery; it ran its 
iron in him then and there May 1831. I have heard him say often and 
often. Offutt, Johnston, Abe, and myself left New Orleans in June 1831. 
We came to St. Louis on the steamboat together, walked to Edwardsville 
twenty-five miles northeast of St. Louis, Abe, Johnston, and myself. Abe 
and Johnston went to Coles County and I to Springfield, Sangamon 
County. Thomas Lincoln had moved to Coles County in 1831 in, say, June. 

I came near forgetting some facts. I was in the Black Hawk War, was 
in Sherman's defeat, which was on the fourteenth day of May 1832. Lincoln 
was out on that war. I went in March 1832; Lincoln started as captain of 
the New Salem company about the same time. Lincoln was at Dixon's 
Ferry at the time of Sherman's defeat. I did not go to the Battle of the 
Bad Axe. Lincoln, I think, was there, though not in the action, as I under- 
stand it. I was out about four or six months ; so was Lincoln. Lincoln went 
with Major Henry, I know, I was discharged at Ottawa and Lincoln at 
Rock Island or near that; met at Dixon's Ferry, after the Sherman defeat. 
Lincoln went on with Henry. We were ordered to build a fort at Ottawa 
to protect the people. The Sherman defeat affair grew out of the drunken- 
ness, f oily, cowardice. The fight with Black Hawk was about sundown, one 
hour by sun at or near Sycamore Creek. About 700 Indians and about 200 

Saw Abe in Springfield in 1833, summer; he was in town on business and 
so was 1. 1 saw him frequently from this time, every year from this time till 
he was elected President. He practiced law in Decatur. He came out to- 
my house frequently, leaving court in the evening and after court was over, 


ended. I ate dinner with him after he was elected President. He wrote me 
a letter that he was going to see his mother, came by Decatur, I went with 
him, saw his father's grave. He stayed with his mother once. We ate dinner 
at, in, Farmington. Pretty woman there that took Abe's eyes, I assure you. 
We then went back to Charleston and came to Springfield. I saw him in 
Washington when he was inaugurated, was in his rooms several times. 
Never saw him again till I saw his dead form in the city of Springfield. 
I served in the army of the U.S.A. in 1861 and toiled those three years 
to preserve and defend what he loved. 

I can say that this testimony can be implicitly relied on. Mr. Lincoln 
loved this man, thought him beautiful, honest, and noble. Lincoln has 
stated this to me over and over again. 



Old Mrs. Lincoln's home, 8 miles south of Charleston, 

Friday, September 8, 1865. 
Mrs. Thomas Lincoln says : 

I knew Mr. Lincoln in Kentucky. I married Mr. Johnston, he died about 
1817 or '18. Mr. Lincoln came back to Kentucky, having lost his wife. We, 
Thomas Lincoln and myself, were married in 1819, left Kentucky, went 
to Indiana, moved there in a train, think Kramer moved us. Here is our 
old Bible dated 1819; it has Abe's name in it. Here is Barclay's Dictionary 
dated 1799; it has Abe's name in it, though in a better handwriting; both 
are boyish scrawls. When we landed in Indiana, Mr. Lincoln had erected 
a good log cabin, tolerably comfortable. This is the bureau I took to Indiana 
in 1819, cost $45 in Kentucky. Abe was then young, so was his sister. I 
dressed Abe and his sister up, looked more human. Abe slept upstairs, 
went up on pins stuck in the logs, like a ladder ; our bedsteads were original 
creations, none such now, made of poles and clapboards. Abe was about 
nine years of age when I landed in Indiana. The country was wild, and 
desolate. Abe was a good boy; he didn't like physical labor, was diligent 
for knowledge, wished to know, and if pains and labor would get it, he was 
sure to get it. He was the best boy I ever saw. He read all the books he could 
lay his hands on. I can't remember dates nor names, am about seventy-five 
years of age; Abe read the Bible some, though not as much as .said; he 
sought more congenial books suitable for his age. I think newspapers were 
had in Indiana as early as 1824 and up to 1830 when we moved to Illinois. 


Abe was a constant reader of them. I am sure of this for the years of 1827- 
28-29-30. The name of the Louisville Journal seems to sound like one. Abe 
read history papers and other books, can't name any one, have forgotten. 
Abe had no particular religion, didn't think of that question at that time, if 
he ever did. He never talked about it. He read diligently, studied in the 
daytime, didn't after night much, went to bed early, got up early, and then 
read, eat his breakfast, got to work in the field with the men. Abe read all 
the books he could lay his hands on, and when he came across a passage 
that struck him, he would write it down on boards if he had no paper and 
keep it there till he did get paper, then he would rewrite it, look at it, re- 
peat it. He had a copybook, a kind of scrapbook, in which he put down all 
things and then preserved them. He ciphered on boards when he had n,o 
paper or no slate, and when the board would get too black, he would shave 
it off with a drawing knife and go on again. When he had paper, he put his 
lines down on it. His copybook is here now or was lately. (Here it was 
shown to me by Mrs. Thomas Lincoln.) Abe, when old folks were at our 
house, was a silent and attentive observer, never speaking or asking ques- 
tions till they were gone, and then he must understand everything, even to 
the smallest thing, minutely and exactly; he would then repeat it over to 
himself again and again, sometimes in one form and then in another, and 
when it was fixed in his mind to suit him, he became easy and he never lost 
that fact or his understanding of it. Sometimes he seemed perturbed to give 
expression to his ideas and got mad, almost, at one who couldn't explain 
plainly what he wanted to convey. He would hear sermons [by the] 
preacher, come home, take the children out, get on a stump or log, and al- 
most repeat it word for word. He made other speeches, such as interested 
him and the children. His father had to make him quit sometimes, as he 
quit his own work to speak and made the other children as well as the men 
quit their work. As a usual thing Mr. Lincoln never made Abe quit reading 
to do anything if he could avoid it. He would do it himself first. Mr. Lin- 
coln could read a little and could scarcely write his name ; hence he wanted, 
as he himself felt the uses and necessities of educating, his boy Abraham to 
learn, and he encouraged him to do it in all ways he could. Abe was a good 
boy, and I can say what scarcely one woman, a mother, can say in a thou- 
sand and it is this : Abe never gave me a cross word or look and never re- 
fused in fact, or even in appearance, to do anything I requested him. I 
never gave him a cross word in all my life. He was kind to everybody and 
to everything and always accommodated others if he could, would do so 
willingly if he could. His mind and mine, what little I had, seemed to run 
together, more in the same channel. Abe could easily learn and long remem- 
ber, and when he did learn anything he learned it well and thoroughly. 


What he thus learned he stored away in his memory, which was extremely 
good. What he learned and stored away was well defined in his own mind, 
repeated over and over again and again, till it was so defined and fixed 
firmly and permanently in his memory. He rose early, went to bed early, 
not reading much after night. Abe was a moderate eater, and I now have 
no remembrance of his special dish; he sat down and ate what was set 
before him, making no complaint; he seemed careless about this. I cooked 
his meals for nearly fifteen years. He always had good health, never was 
sick, was very careful of his person, was tolerably neat and clean only, 
cared nothing for clothes, so that they were clean and neat, further cut no 
figure with him, nor color, new stuff, nor material; was careless about 
these things. He was more fleshy in Indiana than ever in Illinois. I saw 
him every year or two. He was here after he was elected President of the 
United States. (Here the old lady stopped, turned around and cried, wiped 
her eyes, and proceeded.) As company would come to our house Abe was 
a silent listener, wouldn't speak, would sometimes take a book and retire 
aloft, go to the stable or field or woods, and read. Abe was always fond of 
fun, sport, wit, and jokes. He was sometimes very witty indeed. He never 
drank whisky or other strong drink, was temperate in all things, too much so, 
I thought sometimes. He never told me a lie in his life, never evaded, never 
quarreled, never dodged nor turned a corner to avoid any chastisement or 
other responsibility. He never swore or used profane language in my pres- 
ence nor in others' that I now remember of. He duly reverenced old age, 
loved those best about his own age, played with those under his age ; he lis- 
tened to the aged, argued with his equals, but played with the children. He 
loved animals generally and treated them kindly ; he loved children well, 
very well. There seemed to be nothing unusual in his love for animals or his 
own kind, though he treated everybody and everything kindly, humanely. 
Abe didn't oare much for crowds of people; he chose his own company, 
which was always good. He was not very fond of girls, as he seemed to me. 
He sometimes attended church. He would repeat the sermon over again to 
the children. The sight of such a thing amused all and did especially tickle 
the children. When Abe was reading, my husband took particular care not to 
disturb him, would let him read on and on till Abe quit of his own accord. He 
was dutiful to me always ; he loved me truly, I think. I had a son John who 
was raised with Abe. Both were good boys, but I must say, both now being 
dead, that Abe was the best boy I ever saw or ever expect to see. I wish I had 
died when my husband did. I did not want Abe to run for President, did not 
want him elected, was afraid somehow or other, felt it in my heart that 
something would happen to him, and when he came down to see me after he 
was elected President, I still felt that something told me that something 


would befall Abe and that I should see him no more. Abe and his father are 
in Heaven, I have no doubt, and I want to go to them, go where they are. 
God bless Abraham. 

When I first reached the home of Mrs. Lincoln and was introduced 
to her by Colonel A. H. Chapman, her grandson by marriage, I did 
not expect to get much out of her. She seemed so old and feeble ; she 
asked me my name two or three times and where I lived as often, and 
would say: "Where Mr. Lincoln lived once, his friend too." She 
breathed badly at first but she seemed to be struggling at last to arouse 
herself, or to fix her mind on the subject. Gradually by introducing 
simple questions to her, about her age, marriage, Kentucky, Thomas 
Lincoln, her former husband, her children, grandchildren, Johnston, 
she awoke as it were a new being, her eyes were clear and calm ; her flesh 
is white and pure, not coarse or material ; is tall, has bluish large gray 
eyes ; ate dinner with her, sat on my west side, left arm, ate a good 
hearty dinner, she did. 

When I was about to leave, she arose, took me by the hand, wept, 
and bade me good-by, saying: "I shall never see you again, and if 
you see Mrs. Abraham Lincoln and family, tell them I send them my 
best and tenderest love. Good-by, my good son's friend, farewell." 

I then went to Thomas Lincoln's grave. 


Gentryville, Ind., September 1%, 1865. 

My name is N. Grigsby, am fifty-four years of age, knew Abraham Lin- 
coln well. My father came from Kentucky in the fall of 1815 and settled 
in what is called now Spencer County, once a part and portion of Perry. 
Thomas Lincoln moved to this State in the year 1816 or 1817. He came 
in the fall of the year and crossed the Ohio Eiver at what is called Ephraim 
Thompson's Ferry, about two and a half miles west of Troy. The country 
was a wilderness and there were no roads from Troy to the place he settled, 
which place is about one and a half miles east of Gentryville, the town in 
which I now live and you are visiting. Thomas Lincoln was a large man, 
say six feet or a little less, strong and muscular, not nervous. Thomas 
Lincoln was a man of good morals, good habits, and exceedingly good- 
humored, he could read and sign his name, write but little. Mrs. Lincoln, the 


mother of Abraham, was a woman about five feet seven inches high; she 
had dark hair, light hazel eyes, complexion light and exceedingly fair. 
Thomas Lincoln and his wife had two children, one Sally and one Abra- 
ham. Sally was about ten years when she landed in Indiana. Abe was about 
eight or nine years of age. Thomas Lincoln, when he landed in Indiana, 
cut his way to his farm with the ax, felling the forest as he went, which 
was thick and dense no prairies from the Ohio to his place. I am informed 
that he came in a horse wagon to his farm ; don't know but have heard this 
said in the family. Abraham Lincoln and Sally and myself all went to 
school. We first went to school to Andy Crawford in the year 1818 in the 
winter, the same year that Mrs. Lincoln died, she having died in October. 
Abe went to school nearly a year, say nine months. I was going to school 
.all this time and saw Lincoln there most, if not all, the time. The second 
schoolmaster we went to was a Mr. Azel Dorsey. Abraham Lincoln went 
to school to Azel about six months; I went to school all the time, saw 
Lincoln there all or at least most of the time. We had to go about two miles 
to school. The third time we went to school was to a Mr. Sweeney, who 
taught six months. Lincoln did not go to school to him all the time. Lincoln 
had to walk about four miles. Lincoln was, about the first school, nine or 
ten years of age. The second school, he was about fourteen or fifteen, and 
the third school, he was about sixteen or eighteen. Lincoln was large of his 
-age, say at seventeen; he was six feet and two inches tall, weighed about 
160 pounds or a little more; he was stout, withy, wiry. When we went to 
school, we had Dillworth's speaking book and the American spelling book 
not Webster's, I think Lincoln ciphered at Crawford's school, Dorsey's, 
and Sweeney's. He used Pike's Arithmetic. Ray's was sometimes used. We 
only wrote, spelled, and ciphered. We had spelling matches frequently, 
Abe always ahead of all the classes he ever was in. When we went to Craw- 
ford's, he tried to learn us manners, etc. He would ask the scholars to retire 
from the schoolroom, come in, and then some scholar would go around and 
introduce him to all the scholars, male and female. Lincoln was studious. 
Lincoln, while going to school to Crawford, would write short sentences 
against cruelty to animals. We were in the habit of catching terrapins, a 
kind of turtle, and put fire on their back, and Lincoln would chide us and 
tell us it was wrong, would write against it. Lincoln wrote poetry while he 
was going to school to Dorsey. Essays and poetry were not taught in the 
school Abe took it up of his own accord. He wrote a good composition 
against cruelty to animals whilst going to Dorsey and Sweeney. He wrote 
poetry when going to these men. These things I remember and know. Can- 
not remember of his reading any book or books, excepting j3Esop's Fables, 
Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress, the Bible, Robinson Crusoe. Our libraries 


consisted of spelling books, Bibles, arithmetics, songbooks. Lincoln was 
kindly disposed toward everybody and everything. He scarcely ever quar- 
reled, was prompt and honorable. He never was an intemperate lad; he 
did drink his dram as all others did, preachers and Christians included. 
Lincoln was a temperate drinker. When he went out to work anywhere 
would carry his books with him and would always read whilst resting. 

We wore buckskin pants, and linsey-woolsey hunting coats to school. 
This was our school dress our Sunday dress and everyday dress. Mr. 
Lincoln was long and tall and, like the balance of us, he wore low shoes, 
short socks ; wool being scarce between the shoe and sock and his britches, 
made of buckskin, there was bare and naked six or more inches of Abe 
Lincoln's shin bone. He would always come to school thus, good-humoredly 
and laughing. He was always in good health, never was sick, had an ex- 
cellent constitution, and took care of it. 

Lincoln did not do much hunting; sometimes went coon hunting and 
turkey hunting of nights. Whilst other boys were idling away their time, 
Lincoln was at home studying hard, would cipher on the boards, wooden 
fire shovels, etc., by the light of the fire that burnt in the hearth ; had a slate 
sometimes, but if not handy would use boards. He would shave boards 
bright and cipher on them, dirty them, reshave them. Abe would sit up late 
reading and rise early doing the same. 

Mrs. Lincoln, Abe's mother, was born and died in the fall, October 

1818, leaving her two children. Sally Lincoln was older than Abe Sally 
married Aaron Grigsby, my brother, in August 1826. She died in about 
two years in 1828. 

Mrs. Lincoln, the mother of Abe Lincoln, was a woman known for the 
extraordinary strength of her mind among the family and all who knew 
her; she was superior to her husband in every way. She was a brilliant 
woman, a woman of great good sense and morality. Those who knew her 
best, with whom I have talked, say she was a woman of pale complexion, 
dark hair, sharp features, high forehead, bright keen gray or hazel eyes. 
Thomas Lincoln and his wife were really happy in each other's presence, 
loved one another. Thomas Lincoln was not a lazy man, but a [undeci- 
phered] , a piddler, always doing but doing nothing great, was happy, lived 
easy and contented. Had but few wants and supplied these. He wanted few 
things and supplied them easily. His wants were limited by wanting few 
things. Sally was a quick-minded woman and of extraordinary mind. She 
was industrious, more so than Abraham. Abe worked almost alone from 
the head, whilst she labored both. Her good-humored laugh I can see now, 
is as fresh in my mind as if it were yesterday. She could, like her brother 
Abe, meet and greet a person with the very kindest greeting in the world, 


make you easy at the touch and word. Her mind, though my brother's wife, 
was an intellectual and intelligent woman. However, not so much as her 
mother. My brother William Grigsby and John D. Johnston, a stepbrother 
of Abe, had a severe fight ; it was tended from all around the neighborhood, 
Doming eighteen miles ; strong men came, bullies came. Abe was there. Abe 
and my brother first had the quarrel ; Abe, being larger and stronger than 
my brother, turned over his stepbrother to do the fighting; so they met, 
fought, fought a half-mile from Gentryville. There was a store there and 
probably a grocery, and a blacksmith's shop. This was the town then of 
Gentryville. Johnston was badly hurt, but not whipped. My brother was 
unhurt, seriously so; Johnston and my brother were brave strong men. 

A. Lincoln came here in 1844 and made a speech for Clay. It was a Clay 
election in Illinois for the race between Polk and Clay. Lincoln spoke 
here, once, once at Rockport, and once at Carlin township about three- 
quarters of a mile from the home farm. Lincoln in early years say from 
1820 to '25 was tending towards Democracy. He afterwards changed. 
Parties at this time Jackson, Adams, and others. What changed Lincoln I 
don't remember. We were all Jackson boys and men at this time in Indiana. 

Lincoln did go to New Orleans; he went to New Orleans about 1828, 
with a man by the name of Allen Gentry, who took as well as owned the 
supercargo to New Orleans. The goods were sold down on the river. Abe 
went as a bow hand, working the foremost oars, getting $8.00 per month, 
from the time of the starting to the returning home. Gentry paid his way 
back on a boat. This I know. He made rails for Crawford, took jobs of work 
sometimes, would go to the river, the Ohio thirteen or sixteen miles distant, 
and there work. It is sixty miles to the Wabash, he did work on the Wabash, 
but on the Ohio. Lincoln did not work on the Louisville [ undeciphered] , 
but he may have done it nevertheless. 

Lincoln did write what is called the Book of Chronicles, a satire on the 
Grigsbys and Josiah Crawford, not the schoolmaster, but the man who 
loaned Lincoln the Life of Washington. The satire was good, sharp, cutting, 
and showed the genius of the boy ; it hurt us then, but it's all over now. 
There is now no family in the broad land who after this loved Lincoln 
so well and who now look upon him as so great a man. We all voted for 
him. All that could, children and grown children. I was for Lincoln and 
Hamlin first, last, and always. Second election I was at Decatur, Alabama, 
in the service of the United States. 

We had political discussions from 1825 to 1830, the year Lincoln left 
for Illinois. We attended them, heard questions discussed, talked every- 
thing over and over, and in fact wore it out. We learned much in this way. 

I said heretofore that Abraham made his mark of manhood even while 


in Indiana. His mind and the ambition of the man soared above us. He 
naturally assumed the leadership of the boys. He read and thoroughly 
read his books whilst we played. Hence he rose above us and became our 
guide and leader, and in this position he never failed to be the leader. He 
was kind, jocular, witty, wise, honest, just, human, full of integrity, energy, 
and activity. When he appeared in company the boys would gather and 
cluster around him to hear his talk. He made fun and cracked his jokes, 
making all happy, but the jokes and fun were at no man's expense. He 
wounded no man's feelings. 

Mr. Lincoln was figurative in his speeches, talks, and conversations. He 
argued much from analogy and explained things hard for us to understand 
by stories, maxims, tales, and figures. He would almost always point his 
lesson or idea by some story that was plain and near us, that we might 
instantly see the force and bearing of what he said. 

Never heard in the family or out of it that the Lincolns were Quakers 
coming from Pennsylvania. The history is that they came from Virginia. 


September 14, 1865. 

I started from Nat Grigsby's house, with him as my guide and 
friend throughout the trip, except at Rockport on the Ohio River. 
Grigsby lives in Gentryville, population about three hundred ; laid off 
in 1824, runs north and south mostly, mainly. Started at 8 a.m. Went 
to the Lincoln farm about one and a half miles east of Gentryville, 
and a little north. The house is a one-story hewed log one, porch in 
front ; it is not the house that L. lived in, though he built it. The old 
house the first and second are gone fronts south, chimney at east 
end, has two rooms, the east one and west one, stands on a knoll or 
knob about 50 feet above the road and about 150 yards north of the 
road. On the Gentryville road leading to the Hoffman Mills. The 
country is a heavy timbered one, farms are cleared and cut out of 
the forests. The woods, the timber, is hickory, white oak, called buck- 
eye, and backlands. The old farm now belongs to James Gentry, son 
of James Gentry for whom the old man, the brother of Allen 
Lincoln went to New Orleans in 1828 or 1829. John Hearen or Hear- 
ner now lives as tenant on the land ; it has an orchard on it, part of 
which Abraham Lincoln planted with his own hands. Allen Gentry got 



drunk and fell off the boat going to Louisville and was drowned. Abe 
Lincoln hewed the logs of this new house for his father, one door north 
and one south, two rooms, plank partitions, one window, two rooms ; 
it has been moved from its original position, placed further south than 
the old one ; it is not as Lincoln left it ; it was not completed by Thomas 

Lincoln. The farm was sold to by Thomas Lincoln in 1829, 

went to the place of the old spring northwest of the house, about 300 
yards ; it was dry, saw the place, saw various old wells all caved in ; 
it is said water could not be had on that hill, pity; saw five or six 
old, old apple trees ; the old house and shelter are gone, I say again 
and again ; started to .find Mrs. Lincoln's grave ; it is on a knob, hill, 
or knoll about a half-mile southeast of the Lincoln house ; passed out 
of the lane going east, landed at the grave, tied my horse ; the grave 
was, is, on the very top or crown of the hill. The knob or knoll is a 
heavy timbered one. A space is cut out of the forest by piling the trees 
somewhat as crossbars. In the center of this small cleared place, about 
fifteen feet from a large white oak tree, rather somewhat between two 
of these, lies buried Mrs. Lincoln. God bless her ; if I could breathe life 
into her again, I would do it. Could I only whisper in her ear : "Your 
son was President of the United States from 1861 to 1865," I would be 
satisfied. I have heard much of this blessed good woman. I stood bare- 
headed in reverence at her grave. I can't say why, yet I felt in the 
presence of the living woman translated to another world. "God bless 
her," said her son to me once, and I repeat that which echoes audibly 
in my soul: "God bless her." The grave is almost indistinguishable; 
it has sunk down, leaving a kind of hollow. There is no fence around 
the graveyard and no tomb, no headboard to mark where she lies. At 
her head, close to it, I pulled a dogwood bush and cut or marked my 
name on it. Mrs. Lincoln is buried between two or more persons, said 
to be Hall and his wife, on the one hand and some children on her left 
hand. There are two hollows or sinks. Nat Grigsby and Richardson 
were with me at the time ; they said this was the grave. Mrs. Richard- 
son saw Mrs. Lincoln buried and says it is not the grave. One of these 
sinks, graves crumbled in, lies a few feet, ten feet, south of the other ; 
Mrs. Lincoln's is the southern one as I think from [what] Dennis 
Hanks and A. Lincoln told me. Mrs. Lincoln's body, her ashes, lie just 
fifteen feet west of a hollow hickory stump and just eighteen feet north- 
east from a large white oak tree. After looking at the grave and con- 


templating in silence the mutations of things, death, immortality, God, 
I left, I hope, the grave a better man, at least if but for one moment. 

Went to Dennis Hanks's old place, northeast from the graveyard 
about three-quarters of a mile, just east of the old Lincoln farm about 
the same distance. Got Silas Richardson, an old friend of Abe's ; he 
came to Indiana in 1816 ; so did Lincoln. His mother saw Mrs. Lin- 
coln buried ; he went to the graveyard with us, Nat and myself, and 
made certain what was before doubtful ; he agrees with Dennis Hanks 
and A. Lincoln. Richardson says old man and Mrs. Sparrow, Abe's 
grandfather and mother, lie on one side of Mrs. Lincoln. Two Ban- 
ners, probably children, lie on the other side, or an old lady and a 
child. Mrs. Lincoln lies in the middle. The grave is six feet from said 
shaved dogwood bush. Mrs. Richardson is eighty-two years of age. 
Says that Mrs. Lincoln's grave lies four and a half feet south of the 
one I say is the correct one. Dennis Hanks, A. Lincoln, Silas Richard- 
son, the old lady's son, and myself agree to the place. I only go by 
recollection and what others say. Mrs. Richardson and her son go 
by what they saw and know. One John Richardson was the husband 
of old Mrs. Richardson, and father of Silas Richardson. There is no 
fence around the grave, no palings, enclosures, of any kind, no head- 
board, no footboard, to mark the spot where Abraham Lincoln's 
mother lies; curious and unaccountable, is it not? All is a dense 
forest, wild and grand. 

I then proceeded to old Samuel Howell's house, south of the grave- 
yard about a half-mile, drank out of a good spring near the Little 
Pigeon Meeting House out of which Abe had kneeled and drunk a 
thousand times. Spring close to the corner of the old Howell farm, 
part of which is turned out wild again. I passed the spring, a little 
east, southeast, up a small rise or swell in the ground, and landed at 
the famous meeting house, called the Little Pigeon Meeting House. It 
is a Baptist church now and probably was then, but free to all comers 
of all and every denomination. The house is a two-story one outside, 
but one inside ; it was intended to let the choir and people sit up there 
when crowded, but remains unfinished. This house is about one and 
a half miles from Lincoln's house, south and east. Went through the 
church, stealing in at the windows. The pulpit was made by Thomas 
Lincoln. I cut s a small piece therefrom as memento. Passed east about 
fifty yards into the large graveyard, saw the grave of Sarah Lincoln, 


Mrs. Grigsby, Abe's sister, God bless her ashes. Mrs. Grigsby and 
her husband Aaron lie side by side. God bless 'em. They lie ten feet 
south of Nat Grigsby's wife, first, and mother. Graveyard slopes 
east and north, is in the forest, fenced in, quite a pretty place. Craw- 
ford's schoolhouse lies east of the church, east of the graveyard, and 
about two hundred yards ; it is about two miles from the Lincoln farm, 
southeast ; is near the place enclosed in a field, schoolhouse long since 
rotted away and gone. 

I then started for John Romine's, southwest ; met Romine in the 
road meeting us ; his age is sixty years. Says : 

I saw Mr. Lincoln hundreds of times ; have been in Spencer County since 
1815. Lincoln went to New Orleans about '28 or '29, hauled some of the 
bacon to the river, not for Lincoln but for Gentry. Thomas Lincoln was a 
carpenter by trade, relied on it for a living, not on farming. Abe didn't like 
to work it, didn't raise more than was enough for family and stock. Boat 
started out of the Ohio in the spring Abe about twenty years of age 
started from Rockport, a short distance below, rather at the Gentry land- 
ing. Gone about two months. Lincoln was attacked by the Negroes, no doubt 
of this. Abe told me so, saw the scar myself. Suppose at the Washington 
farm or near by, probably below at a widow's farm. Abe was awful lazy; 
he worked for me, was always reading and thinking; used to get mad at 
him. He worked for me in 1829 pulling fodder. I say Abe was awful lazy; 
he would laugh and talk and crack jokes and tell stories all the time, didn't 
ever work but did dearly love his pay. He worked for me frequently, a few 
days only at a time. His breeches and socks didn't meet by twelve inches, 
shin bones sharp, blue, and narrow. Lincoln said to me one day that his 
father taught him to work but never learned him to love it. 

Saw old man Gordon's mill, rather the ruins of it. This is the mill 
where Abe got kicked by a horse. Hunted for Lincoln's name written 
in tar and black lead and piece on a shaft of the mill, couldn't find it ; 
got a cog or two of the mill. Romine tells me one verse of the Book 
of Chronicles;, it runs thus : 

Reuben and Charley have married two girls, 
But Billy has married a boy. 
Billy and Natty agree very well, 
Mamma is pleased with the match, 
The egg is laid but didn't hatch. 



Indiana, September 1^ 1865. 
S. T. Johnston says : 

I am aged thirty-four years, resided in the county twenty-five years, from 
the year 1831 to 1856. The county seat of Warnick County was Booneville, 
about fifteen miles from Gentryville, northwest. Lincoln used to attend 
court in that place. He became acquainted with a Mr. Breckenridge there, 
heard [cases] in which Breckenridge was counsel. He was a fine lawyer. 
Lincoln attended a murder case, trial and proceedings; was young, aged 
about eighteen or nineteen years. B. noticed the calm intelligent attention 
that L. paid to the trial. B. moved to Texas in 1852; Lincoln had not seen 
B. from 1828 to 1862, B. went to Washington. L. saw Breckenridge. L. 
instantly recognized B. Lincoln told Breckenridge that he at that time, 
the trial, formed a fixed determination to study the law and make that his 
profession. Lincoln referred to the trial, said to Breckenridge that he had 
listened to his, B/s, speech at the trial, and said: "Breckenridge, it was the 
best speech that I, up to that time, ever heard. If I could, as I then thought, 
make as good a speech as that, my soul would be satisfied." Summers used 
to attend court there and frequently saw Mr. Lincoln there, knew he always 
attended court and paid strict attention to what was said and done. The 
murder case took place in 1828. L. complimented Breckenridge at that 
trial, saying it was a clear, logical, and powerful effort, etc. Breckenridge 
looked at the shabby boy. 


Jos. C. Richardson says : 

My father came to Spencer County, Indiana, in 1828. Lincoln was tall 
and rawboned at eighteen. When sixteen years of age, he was six feet high ; 
he was somewhat bony and raw, dark-skinned; he was quick and moved 
with energy; he never idled away his time. When out of regular work, he 
would help and assist the neighbors ; he was exceedingly studious. I knew 
him well; he wrote me a copy in my writing copybook which ran thus: 

Good boys who to their books apply 
Will make great men by and by. 

This copy was written in 1829. The Weems Washington, the book story, 
took place in 1829, one year before Abe went to Illinois. Crawford was a 
close, penurious man, probably did not treat Lincoln generously, but Lin- 


coin did not object to what Crawford required. The book story is correct. 

Once Lincoln and Squire Hall raised some watermelons ; some of us boys 
lit into the melon patch accidentally. We got the melons, went through the 
corn to the fence, got over. All at once to our surprise and mortification 
Lincoln came among us, on us, good-naturedly said: "Boys, now I've got 
you"; sat down with us, cracked jokes, told stories, helped to eat the 

One day Abe's grandmother wanted him to read some chapters in the 
Bible for her. L. did not want to do it. At last he took up the Bible and 
read and rattled away so fast that his poor old grandmother could not 
understand it. She good-naturedly ran him out of the house with the broom- 
stick, who, being out, the thing he wanted, he kept shy that day all done 
in sport and fun. 

Lincoln did keep ferry for James Taylor for about nine months at the 
mouth of Anderson River on the Ohio, between Troy and Maxville. The 
Lincoln and Grigsby family had a kind of quarrel and hence for some time 
did not like each other. Aaron Grigsby had some years before this married 
Miss Sarah Lincoln, the good and kind sister of Abe. Two other Grigsby 
boys, men rather, got married on the same night at the same house, though 
they did not marry sisters ; they had an inf air at old man Grigsby's, and all 
the neighbors, except the Lincoln family, were invited. Josiah Crawford, 
the book man, helped to get up the inf air; he had a long huge blue nose. 
Abe Lincoln undoubtedly felt miffed, insulted, pride wounded, etc. Lincoln, 
I know, felt wronged about the book transaction. After the infair was 
ended, the two women were put to bed. The candles were blown out, up- 
stairs. The gentlemen, the two husbands, were invited and shown to bed. 
Charles Grigsby got into bed with, by accident as it were, Reuben Grigsby's 
wife, and Reuben got into bed with Charles's wife, by accident as it were. 
Lincoln, I say, was mortified, and he declared that he would have revenge. 
Lincoln was by nature witty, and here was his chance. So he got up a witty 
poem, called the Book of Chronicles, in which the infair, the mistake in 
partners, Crawford and his blue nose, came in each for its share, and this 
poem is remembered here in Indiana in scraps better than the Bible, better 
than Wake's hymns. This was in 1829, and the first production that I know 
of that made us feel that Abe was truly and really game. This called the at- 
tention of the people to Abe intellectually. Abe dropped the poem in the 
road carelessly, lost it as it were ; it was found by one of the Grigsby boys, 
who had the good manly sense to read it, keep it, preserve it for years if 
it is not in existence now. 

Grigsby challenged Lincoln to fight. Abe refused, said he was too big. 
Johnston, Abe's stepbrother, took Abe's part, shoes, met at the old school- 


From a Photograph by A. Gardner in Washington Two Weeks before the 
President's Assassination; Courtesy of Mrs. N. Taylor Phillips 

/?tsj jVZ<m4 j &}~ 



house. Johnston got whipped worsted rather. Richardson says that Lin- 
coln was a powerful man in 1S30, could carry what three ordinary men 
would grunt and swear at; saw him carry a chicken house made of poles 
pinned together and carried that weight at least six hundred if not much 
more. Abe was notoriously good-natured, kind, and honest. Men would 
swear on his simple word ; had a high and manly sense of honor ; was tender, 
gentle, etc., etc., never seemed to care for the girls ; was witty and sad 
and thoughtful by turns, as it seemed to me. God bless Abe's memory for- 


September 15, 1865. 
William Wood says : 

My name is William Wood; came from Kentucky in 1809, March, and 
settled in Indiana, New Spencer County. Settled on the hill yonder about 
one and a half miles north of the Lincoln farm; am now eighty-two years 
of age. Knew Thomas and Abraham Lincoln and family well. Thomas 
Lincoln and family came from Kentucky, Hardin County, in 1816, accord- 
ing to my recollection. Mrs. Thomas Lincoln, Abe's mother, was sick about 
one and a half years after she came. I sat up with her all one night. Mrs. 
Lincoln, her mother, and father were sick with what is called the milk sick- 
ness. Sparrow and wife Mrs. Lincoln's father and mother as well as 
Mrs. L. all died with that sickness, the milk sickness. Thomas Lincoln often 
and at various times worked for me, made cupboards, etc., other household 
furniture for me; he built my house, made floors, ran up the stairs, did all 
the inside work for my house. Abe would come to my house with his father 
and play and romp with my children. 

Abe wrote a piece entitled the Book of Chronicles, a satire on a marriage, 
inf air, and putting the pairs to bed, etc. ; it showed the boy this was in 
1829. A. wrote a piece on national politics, saying that the American gov- 
ernment was the best form of government in the world for an intelligent 
people; that it ought to be kept sacred and preserved forever; that general 
education should [undeciphered] and carried all over the country; that the 
Constitution should be sacred, the Union perpetuated, and the laws re- 
vered, respected, and enforced, etc. (Mr. Wood said much more which I 
can recollect.) This was in 1827 or '28. Abe once drank, as all people did 
here at that time. I took newspapers, some from Ohio, Cincinnati, the 
names of which I have now forgotten. One of these papers was a temper- 
ance paper. Abe used to borrow it, take it home and read it, and talk it over 


with me ; he was an intelligent boy, a sensible lad, I assure you. One day 
Abe wrote a piece on temperance and brought it to my house. I read it 
carefully over and over, and the piece excelled for sound sense anything 
that my papers contained. I gave the article to one Aaron Farmer, a Baptist 
preacher ; he read it, it struck him ; he said he wanted it to send to a tem- 
perance paper in Ohio, for publication; it was sent and published. I saw 
the printed piece, read it with pleasure over and over again. This was in 
1827 or '28. The political article I showed to John Pitcher, an attorney 
of Posey County, Indiana, who was traveling on the circuit, on law busi- 
ness, and stopped at my house overnight ; he read it carefully and asked me 
where I got it. I told him that one of my neighbors' boys wrote it; he 
couldn't believe it till I told him that Abe did write it. Pitcher lived in 
Mount Vernon, Indiana. Pitcher in fact was struck with the article and said 
to me this: "The world can't beat it." He begged for it. I gave it to him 
and it was published; can't say what paper it got into, know it was pub- 
lished. Abe was always a man though a boy. I never knew him to swear ; 
he would say to his playfellows and other boys: "Swear off your boyish 
ways and be more like men." Abe got his mind and fixed morals from his 
good mother. Mrs. Lincoln was a very smart, intelligent, and intellectual 
woman; she was naturally strong-minded; was a gentle, kind, and ten- 
der woman, a Christian of the Baptist persuasion, she was a remarkable 
woman truly and indeed. I do not think she absolutely died of the milk 
sickness entirely. Probably this helped to seal her fate. 

Abraham came to my house one day and stood round about, timid and 
shy. I knew he wanted something. I said to him: "Abe, what is your 
case?" Abe replied: "Uncle, I want you to go to the river (the Ohio) 
and give me some recommendation to some boat." I remarked: "Abe, your 
age is against you, you are not twenty-one yet." "I know that, but I want 
a start/' said Abe. I concluded not to go, for the boy's good; did not go. I 
saw merchants in Rockport and mentioned the subject to them. In 1829, 
this was. 

Abe read the newspapers of the day, at least such as I took. I took the 
Telescope. Abe frequently borrowed it. I remember the paper now. I 
took it from about 1825 to 1830, if not longer. Abe worked for me on 
this ridge (on this road leading from Gentryville to Elizabeth-Dale Post 
Office place). Abe whipsawed, saw him cutting down a large tree one 
day; I asked him what he was going to do with it; he said he was going 
to saw it into planks for his father's new house. The year was 1828 or 
'29. Abe could sink an ax deeper in wood than any man I ever saw. Abe 
cut the tree down, and he and one Levi Mills whipsawed it into planks. 
As I said, the plank was for Lincoln's new house; the house was not 


completed till after Lincoln left for Illinois. The house that Lincoln 
lived in is gone. Abe sold his planks to Crawford, the book man. The 
book story is substantially correct. Josiah Crawford put the plank in his 
house, where it is now to be seen, i.e., in the southeast room. (I sat on the 
plank myself ate a good dinner at Mrs. Crawford's; Mrs. C. is a lady, 
is a good woman, quite intelligent. 1 ) Abe wrote poetry a good deal, but 
I can't recollect what about except one piece which was entitled "The 
Neighborhood Broil." Abe always brought his pieces, prose or poetry, to 
me straight. I thought more of Abe than any boy I ever saw; he was a 
strong man, physically powerful; he could strike with a mall a heavier 
blow than any man; he was long, tall, and strong. 

Mr. Wood told me an ox story about Abe's bravery which I can 
recollect. Tell it. 


September 16, 1865. 

I went to Josiah Crawford's, the book man, not the schoolteacher 
as represented, the schoolteacher was a different man. Landed there 
about 11 a.m., hitched my horse, Nat Grigsby with me, as he went all 
the rounds with me and to all places and was present at all interviews 
and conversations. Mrs. Crawford was absent, at a son's house, dis- 
tant about three-quarters of a mile, attending to her sick grandchild. 
I called for dinner. Mrs. Crawford's daughter got us a good dinner, 
sent for Mrs. Crawford, her daughter rather would send for her. Be- 
fore Mrs. Crawford came, I looked over the "library," counted the 
volumes. There were two Bibles, four hymnbooks, Graham's History 
of the United States abridged, Great Events of America, Pioneers of 
the New World, a Testament, Grace Truman, Webster's Dictionary, 
a small one,, some newspapers, mostly religious. There were twelve or 
fifteen books in all. Mrs. Crawford came, is aged about fifty-nine years. 
She is good-looking, is a lady at first blush, is easily approached, quite 
talkative, free and generous. She knew Abe Lincoln well. 

My husband is dead, died May 1865. Abraham was nearly grown when 
he left Indiana. Abe worked for my husband, daubed our cabin in 1824 
or '25 in which we lived. The second work he did for us was work done 
for the injured book, Weems's Life of Washington. Lincoln in 1829 bor- 

i Herndon's note. 


rowed this book and by accident got it wet. L. came and told honestly 
and exactly how it was done, the story of which is often told. My hus- 
band said: "Abe, as long as it is you, you may finish the book and keep 
it." Abe pulled fodder a day or two for it. We brought the book from 
Kentucky. Abe worked on the field yonder, north of the house. Our 
house was then the same little log cabin which Abe had " daubed" \ it was 
made of round logs "unhewn and unbarked." The old cabin, which stood 
here by this cotton tree, was pulled down and this new one erected there. 
We had cleared about eighteen acres of land when Abe first worked for 
us. Abe made rails for us. Our first house was about fifteen square, 
one room, low, Thomas Lincoln made my furniture; some of it was sold 
at my husband's administrors' sale* Thomas Lincoln was at my house fre- 
quently, almost every week. Sarah Lincoln, Abe's sister, worked for me; 
she was a good, kind, amicable girl, resembling Abe. The Lincoln family 
were good people, good neighbors ; they were honest and hospitable and 
very, very sociable. We moved to Indiana in 1824, came from Kentucky. 
I know as a matter of course Sarah and Sally Lincoln very well, and I 
say to you that she was a gentle, kind, smart, shrewd, social, intelligent 
woman. She was quick and strong-minded; she had no education, except 
what she gathered up herself. I speak more of what she was by nature 
than by culture, I never was a politician in all my life, but when such 
men as Abe Lincoln, as in 1860 [ran for office], I, as it were, took the 
stump; he was the noblest specimen of man I ever saw. Gentryville lies 
four miles from here northwest. Abe worked for us at various times at 
2Sf per day, worked hard and faithful, and when he missed time, would 
not charge for it. I took some of the rails which Abe cut and split for 
us and had canes made from them; they were white oak, cut from this 
stump here; someone got into my house and stole my cane. 

Can't say what books Abe read, but I have a book called The Kentucky 
Preceptor, which we brought from Kentucky and in which and from 
which Abe learned his school orations, speeches, and pieces to recite. 
School exhibitions used to be the order of the day, not as now, however. 
Abe attended them, spoke, and acted his part always well, free from 
rant and swell; he was a modest and sensitive lad, never coming where 
he was not wanted ; he was gentle, tender, and kind. Abe was a moral and 
a model boy and, while other boys were out hooking watermelons and 
drifting away their time, he was studying his books, thinking and re- 
flecting, Abe used to visit the sick boys and girls of his acquaintance. 
When he worked for us, he read all our books, would sit up late in the 
night, kindle up the fire, read by it, cipher by it. We had a broad wooden 
shovel on which Abe would work out his poems, wipe off, and repeat till 


it got too black for more ; then he would scrape and wash off, and repeat 
again and again; rose early, went to work, came to dinner, sat down and 
read, joked, told stories, etc., etc. Here is my husband's likeness; you 
need not look at mine. My husband was a substantial man (and I say a 
cruel hard husband judging from his looks - 1 ), Sarah Lincoln was a 
strong, healthy woman, was cool, not excitable, truthful, do to tie to, 
shy, shrinking. Thomas Lincoln was blind in one eye, and the other was 
weak, so he felt his way on the work much of the time; his sense of touch 
was keen. Abe did wear buckskin pants, coonskin, opossum skin caps. 
Abe ciphered with a coal or with red keel got from the branches; he 
smoothed and planed boards, wrote on them, ciphered on them. I have 
seen this over and over again. Abe was sometimes sad, not often; he was 
reflective, was witty and humorous. 

Abe Lincoln was one day bothering the girls, his sister and others play- 
ing yonder, and his sister scolded him, saying: "Abe, you ought to be 
ashamed of yourself. What do you expect will become of you?" "Be 
President of the United States," promptly responded Abe. Abe wrote 
a good composition, wrote prose and poetry. He wrote three or four 
satires ; one was called the Book of Chronicles. He said that he would be 
President of the United States, told my husband so often, said it jokingly, 
yet with a smacking of deep earnestness in his eye and tone; he evidently 
had an idea, a feeling, in 1828 that he was bound to be a great man. No 
doubt that in his boyish days he dreamed it would be so. Abe was ambi- 
tious, sought to outstrip and override others. This I confess. 

One of Abe's pieces, the Book of Chronicles, ran about this : 

I will tell you a joke about Josiah and Mary, 
9 Tis neither a joke nor a try 9 
For Reuben and Charles have married two girls 
But Billy has married a boy. 

He tried (Mrs. Crawford blushed) 

The girls on every side 

He had well tried. 

None could he get to agree, 

All was in vain, 

He went home again, 

And said that he's married to Natty. 

I don't pretend to give the exact words, nor its rhyme, nor meter now, 
will think it over, recall it, and write to you in Illinois. The poem is smutty 

i Herndon's note. 


and I can't tell it to you, will tell it to my daughter-in-law; she will tell 
her husband, and he shall send it to you. 

I left Mrs. Crawford's about 3 p.m. 

Before leaving, she gave me The Kentucky Preceptor and a cane 
made from one of Abe's rails, for both of which I thanked her. I really 
felt proud of the gift and felt a gratitude for them. Mrs. Crawford is 
a lady of the Kentucky stamp. 


Gentryville, Ind., September 16, 1865. 

After taking the records in Spencer County, Indiana, I went with 
my old guide and companion Nat Grigsby down to William Thompson, 
who lived where Colonel Jones had resided a half-mile west of Gen- 
tryville. Colonel Jones was Lincoln's guide and teacher in politics. 
Colonel J. was killed at Atlanta. Grigsby showed me where Lincoln 
spoke in 1844. When Lincoln was speaking, Grigsby went into the 
house where the speech was being made ; Lincoln saw G. enter ; he 
stopped short, said: "There is Nat." Lincoln then walked over the 
benches and over the heads of his hearers, came rolling, took G. by 
the hand, shook it most cordially, said a few words, went back, com- 
menced his remarks where he had stopped, finished his speech, told 
G. that he must stay with him all night, slept at Col. Jones's. 

When we had gone to bed and way in the night, a cat commenced 
mewing and scratching, making a fuss generally. Lincoln got up in the 
dark and said: "Kitty, Kitty, Pussy, Pussy.*' The cat knew the voice and 
manner kind, went to Lincoln. L. rubbed it down, saw the sparkling. L. 
took up the cat, carried it to the door, and gently rubbed it again and 
again, saying: "Kitty, Kitty, etc./' then gently put it down, closed the 
doors, commenced telling stories and talking over old times. 

As we were going down to Thompson's G. told me this story, which 
I had heard before. 

A man by the name of Charles Harper was going to mill, had an ex- 
tremely long wheat bag on the horse, and was met by Sister Gordon, who 
said to Brother Harper: "Brother Harper, your bag is too long." "No," 
Brother Harper, "it is only too long in the [undeciphered]/' They 


were brother and sister in the Church. Mrs. Gordon told her husband of 
the vulgar [words] ; Gordon made a fuss, had a church trial. Lincoln got 
the secret, wrote a witty piece of poetry on the scenes and conversations. 
The poetry of Abe was good, witty, etc., as said by all who read it. 


Mrs. Jack Armstrong says : 

Am the wife of Jack Armstrong, was so, knew Abraham Lincoln in 
July or August 1831, knew this by the birth of one of my children. Lin- 
coln was clerking for Offutt at that time. I was living four miles from 
New Salem. Our acquaintance began then. Abraham would come out to 
our house, drink milk and mush, corn bread, butter, bring the children 
candy, would rock the cradle of my baby, the boy that was put on trial 
and whom Abe cleared, while I got him, Abe, something to eat. Abe is 
one year older than I am, am now fifty-five years. My husband Jack Arm- 
strong died, about 1857. I fixed his pants, made his shirts, didn't make 
any buckskin pants, only fixed his surveyor's pants. He has gone with us 
to parties, he would tell stories, joke people, girls and boys at the parties. 
He would nurse babies, do anything to accommodate anybody. I never 
saw him drink a drop of liquor. Jack Armstrong and Lincoln never had a 
word; they did wrestle, no foul play, all in a good humor, commenced 
in fun and ended in sport. I had no books about my house, loaned him 
none. We didn't think about books, papers, we worked, had to live. Lin- 
coln has stayed at our house two or three weeks at a time. 

In reference to the trial of my son, I wrote to Lincoln first, he then 
wrote to me, have lost the letter, went to see Lincoln at Springfield, saw 
him in his office; he promised to come down to defend my son, did so, 
cleared him, told the stories about our first acquaintance, what I did for 
him and how I did it, etc., was truly eloquent. After the trial was over, 
L. came down to where I was in Beardstown. I asked him what he 
charged me, told him I was poor; he said: "Why, Hannah, I shan't 
charge you a cent, never. Anything I can do for you I will do for you 
willingly and freely without charges/' He wrote to me about some land 
which some men were trying to get for me. Mr. Lincoln said: "Hannah, 
they can't get your land, let them try it in the circuit court and then 
you appeal it, bring it to Supreme Court, and I and Herndon will attend 
to it for nothing." 

lit 1863 I wanted to get one of my sons, William, the boy whom Lincoln 


cleared in Beardstown, out of the army, needed him, all I had, wrote to 
Lincoln at Washington; he telegraphed to me as follows: 

September 1863, 
Mrs. Hannah Armstrong: 

I have just ordered the discharge of your boy, William, as you say 
now at Louisville, Kentucky. 

A. Lincoln. 

As to the trial, Lincoln said to me: "Hannah, your son will be cleared 
before sundown." He and the other lawyers addressed the jury and 
closed the case. I went down to Thompson's parlor. Stanton came and 
told me soon that my son was cleared, and a free man. I went up to the 
court house, the jury shook hands with me, so did the Court, so did Lin- 
coln. We were all affected and tears streamed down Lincoln's eyes. He 
then remarked to me : "Hannah, what did I tell you ? I pray to God that 
William may be a good boy hereafter, that this lesson may prove in the 
end a good lesson to him and to all." 

Mr. Lincoln lectured in the evening after the trial on discoveries and 
inventions; it was a funny production and, if I can judge, a very good, 
that is, a solid and good one. 

A few days before Mr. Lincoln left for Washington, I went to see 
him, was a widow; the boys got up a story on me that I went to get to 
sleep with Abe, etc. I replied to the joke that it was not every woman 
who had the good fortune and high honor of sleeping with a President. 
This stopped the sport, cut it short. Well, I talked to him some time and 
was about to bid him good-by, had told him that it was the last time that 
I should ever see him, something told me that I should never see him, that 
they would kill him. He smiled and said jokingly: "Hannah, if they kill 
me, I shall never die another death." I then bade him good-by. 

I never was in Springfield till 1859. The stories going the rounds about 
jumping. I was in Springfield after my son was cleared, saw him, shook 
hands with him, saw his wife. Abraham never spoke to me about his wife, 
never introduced me to her, thought something was the matter with him 
and her. The first time I went to his house knocked at the door, heard no 
answer, went to the back door, roused the girl, saw Lincoln come up- 
stairs. , . . 

You understand the customs and habits of the people of Menard in 
1831 to 1837 as well and better than I do and can write them out, am sick, 
want to go home, will see you in Springfield sometimes, will then tell you 
more. Good-by, etc. 



November 29, 1866. 
James H. Matheny says : 

That about 1837, 8, and 9 a parcel of young men in this city formed a 
kind of political society, association, or what not. Lincoln once or twice 
wrote short poems for the book. None of the poems are recollected in full* 
One verse of one, on "Seduction/' by Lincoln, runs thus : 

Whatever spiteful fools may say, 
Each jealous, ranting yelper, 
No woman ever played the whore 
Unless she had a man to help her. 

Newton Francis 1 

Evan Butler L , _ 

_ ^Some of the members. 

Noah Rickard 

J. H. Matheny J 


Dr. Floyd, dentist, says : 

Just before Lincoln left for Washington, I met him on the street, and 
knowing that he had received many threatening letters of assassination, 
etc., I suggested to him the propriety of care, caution, told him he had 
better take a cook from his own true and tried female acquaintances here. 
Mr. Lincoln said : "I will be cautious, but God's will be done. I am in His 
hands, and will be during my administration, and what He does I must 
bow to. God rules, and we should submit, etc." This was earnestly said. 

(This is correct. H.) 


Mary S. Owens, daughter of Nathaniel Owens, was born in Green 
County, Kentucky, on the twenty-ninth day of September 1808. She was 

i In a letter to Jesse Weik, dated March 14, 1887, B. R. .Vineyard, the son of 
Mary Owens, writes: "I have written (also enclosed) a short account of my mother 
and Mr. Lincoln's courtship of her. I do not wish it published over my signature, 
but send it to you as my idea of what is probably true, that it may serve you as the 
basis of what you may wish to write on the subject." 


married to Jesse Vineyard on the twenty-seventh day of March 1841. 
Of this union there were born five children, of whom only two survive. 
Jesse Vineyard died December 27, 1862, and Mary, his widow, on July 
4, 1877. 

Mary received a good education, her father being a leading and wealthy 
citizen of his time and locality. A part of her schooling was obtained in 
a Catholic convent, though in religious faith she was a Baptist, and in 
after years united with that denomination, and continued a member 
thereof until the time of her death. She was good-looking when a girl, by 
many esteemed handsome, but growing fleshier as she grew older. She 
was polished in her manners, pleasing in her address, and attractive in 
society. She had a little dash of coquetry in her intercourse with that 
class of young men who arrogated to themselves claims of superiority. 
But she never yielded to this disposition to an extent that would willingly 
lend encouragement to an honest suitor, sincerely desirous of securing her 
hand, where she felt she could not in the end yield to a proposal of mar- 
riage if he should make the offer. She was a good conversationalist and a 
splendid reader but very few persons being found to equal her in this 
accomplishment. She was light-hearted and cheery in her disposition. She 
was kind and considerate for those with whom she was thrown in contact. 

She first became acquainted with Mr. Lincoln while visiting a sister 
of hers who had married Bennett Able, and who was an early settler of 
the country about New Salem. Young Lincoln was a frequent visitor at 
the house of Able and a warm friend of the family, and during the first 
visit of Mary Owens, which did not continue a great while, he learned to 
admire her very much. Later she made a second visit to her sister, Mrs. 
Able, returning with her from Kentucky. Lincoln had boasted, so it has 
been said, that he would marry Miss Owens if she came a second time to 
Illinois, a report of which had come to her hearing. She left her Kentucky 
home with a predetermination to show him, if she met him, that she was 
not to be caught simply by the asking. On this second visit Lincoln paid 
her more marked attention than ever before, and his affections became 
more and more enlisted in her behalf. During the early part of their 
acquaintance, following the natural vent of her temperament, she was 
pleasing and entertaining to him. Later on, he discovered himself seri- 
ously interested in the blue-eyed Kentuckian, whom he had really under- 
estimated in his preconceived opinions of her. In the meantime, Mary, too, 
had discovered the sterling qualities of the young man who was paying 
her such devoted attention. But while she admired, she did not love him. 
He was ungainly and angular in his physical make-up, and to her seemed 
deficient in the nicer and more delicate attentions, which she felt to be 


due from the man whom she had pictured as an ideal husband. He had 
given her to understand that she had greatly charmed him. But he was not 
himself certain that he could make her the husband he thought she would 
be most happy with. Later on, by word and in letter, he told her so. His 
honesty of purpose showed itself in all his efforts to win her hand. He 
told her of his poverty, and while advising her that life with him meant 
to her, who had been reared in comfort and plenty, great privation and 
sacrifice, yet he wished to secure her as a wife. But she felt that she did 
not entertain for him the same feeling that he professed for her, and that 
she ought to entertain before accepting him, and so declined his offer. 
Judging alone from some of his letters, it has been supposed by some 
that she, remembering the murmur she had heard of his determination to 
marry her, and not being fully certain of the sincerity of his purposes, 
may have purposely left him, in the earlier stages of his courtship, some- 
what in uncertainty. But later on, when, by his manner and his repeated 
announcements to her that his hand and heart were at her disposal, he 
demonstrated the honesty and sincerity of his purposes, she declined his 
offer kindly but with no uncertain meaning. In speaking of him in after 
years she always referred to him as a man with a heart full of human 
kindness and a head full of common sense. 


I am the wife of the Hon. N. W. Edwards. Mr. Lincoln married my 
sister Mary. We came to Springfield about 1835; my sister Mrs. Wal- 
lace now came to live with us about that time. Doctor Wallace and she 
were married in 18 . We had a vacancy in our family by that marriage, 
wrote to Mary to come out and make our home her home; she had a 
stepmother with whom she did not agree. Mary was born in 1818, well 

educated, taught at a private school in Lexington, Mrs. keeping it. 

Mary came to Illinois about 1838. Mr. Lincoln commenced seeing Mary 
about 1839-40, the winter of 1839 and '40, directly after Doctor Wal- 
lace was married. I knew Mr. L. well, he was a cold man, had no af- 
fection, was not social, was abstracted, thoughtful. I knew he was a 
great man long years since, knew he was a rising man, and, nothing 
else modifying this, advised Mary at first to marry L. L. could not hold a 
lengthy conversation with a lady, was not sufficiently educated and in- 
telligent in the female line to do so. He was charmed with Mary's wit and 
fascinated with her quick sagacity, her will, her nature, and culture. I 
have happened in the room where they were sitting often and often, and 
Mary led the conversation. Lincoln would listen and gaze on her as if 


drawn by some superior power, irresistibly so ; he listened, never scarcely 
said a word. I did not in a little time think that Mr. L. and Mary were 
suitable to each other and so said to Mary. Mary was quick, lively, gay, 
frivolous, it may be, social, and loved glitter, show, and pomp and power. 
She was an extremely ambitious woman and in Kentucky often and often 
contended that she was destined to be the wife of some future President, 
said it in my presence in Springfield and said it in earnest. Mr. Speed 
came to see Miss Matilda Edwards, left and went to Kentucky, Miss 
Edwards staying. Mr. Lincoln loved Mary, he went crazy in my own opin- 
ion, not because he loved Miss Edwards as said, but because he wanted to 
marry and doubted his ability and capacity to please and support a wife. 
Lincoln and Mary were engaged, everything was ready and prepared for 
the marriage, even to the supper, etc. Mr. L. failed to meet his engage- 
ment, cause : insanity. In his lunacy he declared he hated Mary and loved 
Miss Edwards. This is true, yet it was not his real feelings. A crazy man 
hates those he loves when not himself, often, often is this the case. The 
world had it that Mr. L. backed out, and this placed Mary in a peculiar 
situation, and to set herself right and to free Mr. Lincoln's mind, she 
wrote a letter to Mr. L. stating that she would release him from his en- 
gagement. Mr. Edwards and myself, after the first crush of things, told 
Mary and Lincoln that they had better not even marry, that their natures, 
mind, education, raising, etc., were so different they could not live happy 
as husband and wife, had better never think of the subject again. How- 
ever, all at once we heard that Mr. L. and Mary had secret meetings at 
Mr. L. Francis's, editor of the Springfield Journal. Mary said the reason 
this was so, the cause why it was, that the world, woman and man, were 
uncertain and slippery and that it was best to keep the secret courtship 
from all eyes and ears. Mrs. L. told Mr. L. that, though she had released 
him in the letter spoken of, yet she said that she would hold the question 
an open one, that is, that she had not changed her mind, but felt as always. 
The whole of the year of the crazy spell Miss Edwards was at our house, 
say for a year. I asked Miss Edwards, subsequently Mrs. Strong, if Mr. 
Lincoln ever mentioned the subject of his love to her. Miss Edwards said: 
"On my word, he never mentioned such a subject to me; he never even 
stooped to pay me a compliment." 

Mr. Douglas used to come to see Mary, probably it is quite likely that 
his intentions were true and sincere. Mary was asked one day by some 
of her friends which she intended to have. "Him who has the best pros- 
pects of being President," said Miss Todd. The marriage of Mr. L. and 
Mary was quick and sudden, one or two hours' notice. 

Miss Edwards one day was asked why she married such an old dried-up 


husband, such a withered-up old buck. She replied: "He had lots o 
houses and gold." Mary was present at this question and answer, and she 
then remarked: "Is that true? I would rather marry a good man, a man 
of mind, with a hope and bright prospects ahead for position, fame, and 
power than to marry all the houses, gold, and bones in the world." Mary 
Lincoln has had much to bear, though she don't bear it well; she has 
acted foolishly, unwisely, and made the world hate her; she opened a 
private letter of mine after I left Washington because in that letter my 
daughter gave me her opinion of Mrs. L. She became enraged at me. I 
tried to explain; she would send back my letters with insulting remarks. 
Mr. Lincoln shed tears when I left Washington, had been solicited to come 
to Washington by Mr. and Mrs. Lincoln. Mr. Lincoln said to me: "Mrs, 
Edwards, do stay with me; you have such a power and control, such an 
influence, over Mary; come, do stay and console me." This was some time 
after Willie's death. 

Once I took Mr. L. to calm his mind, to cheer him, to inspire him, if 
you please, with hope and confidence, to turn away his attention from 
business as well as grief, down to and through the rich conservatory, hot- 
house, cold house, etc., where the flowers are kept and where the world is 
represented by flowers that speak, and made the remark to Mr. L. : "Oh, 
how beautiful this is ; these roses, etc., are fine ; these exotics are grand," 
and to which Mr. Lincoln said : "I never was in here before ; how spring- 
like it looks ! I don't care for flowers, have no natural and educated taste 
for such things." I made him walk to the park one day north of the 
White House. He had not been there for a year, and Tad went with us. 
Tad locked the gate, hid the key. Mrs. L. told Tad to get the key. Tad 
laughed and L. thought it smart and shrewd. I respect and love Mr. Lin- 
coln, think he was a great man a good man and an honest one. He was a 
little ungrateful, I think, for the want of [undeciphered]. 

Mr. Lincoln was kind and good to his domestic and other servants. One 
day the girl threatened to leave unless she could get $1.50 per week. 
Mrs. L. could, rather would, not give the extra 25^; the girl said she 
would leave. Mrs. L. said leave. Mr. L. heard the conversation, didn't 
want the girl to leave, told his wife so, asked, begged her to pay the 
$1.50. Mrs. L. remained incorrigible. Mr. L. slipped around to the back 
door and said: "Don't leave. Tell Mrs. Lincoln you have concluded to 
stay at $1.25, and I'll pay the odd 25^ to you." Mrs. Lincoln overheard 
the conversation and said to the girl and Mr. L.: "What are you doing? 
I heard some conversation, couldn't understand it. I'm not going to be 
deceived. Miss, you can leave, and as for you, Mr. L., I'd be ashamed of 


Mr. Lincoln's habits were like himself, odd and wholly irregular. He 
loved nothing and ate mechanically. I have seen him sit down at the table 
and never unless recalled to his senses would he think of food. He was a 
peculiar man. 

Mrs. Lincoln insulted Seward one day. Mr. Seward was the power be- 
hind the throne. Mrs. L. had heard of this often and often. One day she 
said to Mr. Seward: "It is said that you are the power behind the throne. 
I'll show you that Mr. L. is President yet/* 

Mr. L. and Mary saw each other in that parlor there. This house is 
about as it was, excepting this porch, which has been added since. . . . 

September 27, 1887. 
Mrs. N. W. Edwards said: 

Mr. Herndon, have no photos of myself, have had some, unwillingly 
taken, don't know where any of them are now, have a likeness, a portrait, 
of myself here which you can have photographed if you must have it. 
When you go to Indiana I will answer your letters asking questions. I 
have no photos of Mrs. Lincoln; she too was opposed to having her face 
scattered abroad. Mrs. Lincoln was an ambitious woman, the most am- 
bitious woman I ever saw, spurred up Mr. Lincoln, pushed him along and 
upward, made him struggle and seize his opportunities. Lincoln's and 
Mary's engagement, etc., were broken off by her flirtations with Douglas. 
Mr. Edwards and myself told Lincoln and Mary not to marry, said so 
more or less directly ; they were raised differently and had no congeniality, 
no feelings, etc., alike. We never opposed Lincoln's marriage with Mary. 
It is said that Miss Edwards had something to do [with] breaking Mary's 
engagement with Lincoln; it's not true. Miss Edwards told me that Lin- 
coln never condescended to pay her even a poor compliment; it was the 
flirtation with Douglas that did the business. Mr. Lincoln and Mr. Speed 
were fre'quently at our house, seemed to enjoy themselves in their con- 
versation beneath the dense shade of our forest trees. After the match 
was broken off between Mary and Lincoln, Mrs. Francis shrewdly got 
them together. Doctor Henry, who admired and loved Mr. Lincoln, had 
much to do in getting Mary and Lincoln together again. Speaking about 
photos, Mr. Herndon, I am too old now to have one taken. At one time in 
my life I should not have been much ashamed to show my face. (She once 
was a very, very pretty woman. H.) 

Mr. Edwards was present during this conversation said that 


When Lincoln first came to Springfield, I assisted Lincoln, offered to 
buy him a good law library and send him to some law school, and these 
offers he refused; said that he was too poor and did not wish to involve 

Said that Lincoln was, during part of the time, in the legislature 
of 1841, called session. 

Both Mr. Edwards and Mrs. Edwards have been willing at all times 
to answer all proper questions and to make things plain to me. This 
memorandum was taken down by me quickly after the conversation 
was had and is in every particular correct substantially. 

W. H. H. 

It seems to me, infer it, that Mary Todd flirted with Douglas in 
order to spur up Lincoln to a great love. Miss Todd used Douglas as 
a mere tool, refused his hand. Miss Todd didn't know her man. Lincoln 
was somewhat cold and yet exacting, blew up too quickly. From vari- 
ous conversations with Mr. and Mrs. Edwards I infer as above. Mary 
Todd wanted Lincoln to manifest a tender and a deep love, but, poor 
woman, she did not know that Lincoln was an undemonstrative man 
in this line. The devil was to play and did play his part in Mr. Lin- 
coln's and Miss Todd's affairs, nay, during their lives. 



About nine o'clock on the morning of the eighteenth of May 1860 I was 
sitting in the law office of Messrs. Lincoln and Herndon, conversing with 
a student in the office, when Mr. Lincoln came in. On entering, he said: 
"Well, boys, what do you know?" and sat down in a chair on the north 
side of the office. I remarked (to him): "Mr. Rosette, who came from 
Chicago on the morning train, thinks your chances for the nomination 
are good." He asked me if I knew what Mr. Rosette's reasons for thinking 
so were. A short conversation then followed, during which Mr. E. L. 
Baker entered the office with a telegram which said the names of the 
candidates for nomination had been announced to the convention; that 
Mr. Lincoln's name was received with greater applause than that of any 
other candidate. Soon after, he, Lincoln, went to the telegraph office ac- 
companied by those present. After awaiting there some time the tele- 
graph of the first ballot, the first ballot came over the wires. From the 


manner in which Mr. Lincoln received this dispatch, it was my impression 
that it was as favorable as he expected. His opinion was or had been 
that, if Mr. Seward did not get the nomination on the first ballot or come 
very near to it, he would not be likely to get it at all. After waiting a 
short time, another telegram of the second ballot came. This I thought 
from his manner he considered as virtually deciding the nomination. He 
then went to the office of the Illinois State Journal. The local editor, with 
four others including myself, returned to the telegraph office and re- 
mained until the third dispatch came. Upon receiving it, the operator 
threw down his pencil, evidently excited; then, taking it up, wrote out the 
dispatch and handed it to the local, who read it to himself. Those present 
asked how it looked; he said very bad, which lengthened some of our 
faces considerably. On the way to the Journal office he remarked that it 
looked bad for Mr. Seward and the other defeated candidates. Entering 
the office where Mr. Lincoln was seated, the local proposed three cheers 
for the next President, which were given, then read the dispatch. Mr. 
Lincoln, being seated, rose up, took the telegram, and read it; then said: 
"When the second ballot came, I knew this must come." He received all 
with apparent coolness; from the expression playing upon his counte- 
nance, however, a close observer could detect strong emotions within. 
When the result was made known on the streets, it was followed by 
shouts for Lincoln. 

In the remarks which followed the last dispatch someone said: "Mr. 
Lincoln, I suppose we will soon have a book containing your life now"; 
to which he replied: "There is not much in my past life about which to 
write a book as it seems to me." He then came down out of the office 
(which was on the second floor) onto the sidewalk. His neighbors and 
friends, gathering around him, commenced shaking his hand and con- 
gratulating him; he then said, jesting: "Gentlemen, you had better come 
up and shake my hand while you can. Honors elevate some men." After 
spending a few moments in receiving their cordial congratulations, look- 
ing in the direction of his home, he said: "Well, gentlemen, there is a 
little woman at our house who is probably more interested in this dispatch 
than I am; if you will excuse me, I will take the dispatch up and let her 
see it." 

As he walked up the street, his friends and neighbors looked after him 
with a feeling of great satisfaction and, as I thought, mingled with con- 
siderable of pride. Others coming up the streets would point after him 
and say: "Yonder goes Lincoln," showing that he had grown in their 
interest that morning. 


Lincoln played ball pretty much all the day before his nomination, 
played at what is called fives, knocking a ball up against a wall that 
served as an alley. He loved this game, his only physical game that I 
knew of. Lincoln said: "This game makes my shoulders feel well/' 

I heard Lincoln say about 1858, say in October, that the Know Noth- 
ings, their ideas and platform, united to circumscribe the election fran- 
chise, universal suffrage. That he was opposed to it. That he wanted to 
lift men up and give them a chance. Lincoln said that he loved Joseph 
Gillespie, respected him highly, etc., but he (L.) could not endure to talk 
to Jo on that ground, that he (L.) got excited, so did Jo and the best 
way was to quit. 

I know of a case in the Supreme Court about 1849-50 in which I 
(Herndon) wanted Lincoln to assist me to argue a question that in- 
volved the law of the extension or extraction, lessening and narrowing, 
the right of suffrage, it being a city case and I being Mr. L.'s partner 
as well as city attorney, and he would not help me, saying: "I am 
opposed to the limitation, the lessening, of the right of suffrage ; am 
in favor of its extension, enlargement ; want to lift men up and broaden 
them ; don't intend by no act of mine to crush or contract." 

Charles S. Zane says that Julian of Indiana, as well as others in 
Washington, on the last of February or the first day of March 1861, 
told them that Seward tried his best, brought to bear on Lincoln all 
his tact, skill, and power, to get Mr. Lincoln to modify or take out 
that expression in his first Inaugural wherein he, L., said that he would 
not retake facts, etc. L. did not do it. 

Seward's friends tried to make L. not make Chase one of his secre- 
taries and Chase's men tried the same. Much opposition was made against 
Cameron, all to no purpose. 

Lincoln often modified or changed his policy these policies which 
acted as means though he never changed his policy, his purpose, of 
saving the Union never dodged that. 


C. C. Brown says: 

That he came down to Lincoln's office early in the morning of the 


day when Lincoln was nominated. Lincoln was lying on the sofa, said : 
"Well, Brown, have you heard anything?" Lincoln said: "Let's go to 
the telegraph office, Brown." They did go over about 10 a.m. Lincoln 
stopped awhile till the telegraph brought the intelligence of the first 
ballot, the second ballot, the third, etc. Lincoln then exclaimed : "I've 
got him !" 

Lincoln played ball with me on that day (so he did with Z. Enos, 
Baker, etc.). L. was nervous, fidgety, intensely excited. Lincoln told 
stories. . . , 

Lincoln came all the way from Coles County eighty or ninety miles to 
my wedding. Married John T. Stuart, a relation to Lincoln. In the morn- 
ing after my marriage Lincoln met me and said: "Brown, why is a woman 
like a barrel?" [C. C. B.] could not answer. "Well," said Lincoln, "you 
have to raise the hoops before you put the head in." 

Lincoln was our relative; the Todd-Stuart-Edwards family, with 
preacher and priest, dogs, servants, etc., got mad at Mr. L. because he 
made the house-divide d-against-itself speech. We flinched, dodged, Lin- 
coln; he would explain; he did explain. See his speeches with Douglas. 

Lincoln was a radical, fanatically so, and yet he never went beyond 
the people. Kept his ideas and thoughts to himself, i.e., he never told all 
he felt. 

Brown says further that 

Some Eastern man, who had something to do in or with a newspaper in 
New York, came to our office (S. E. and Brown) on some business before 
L. was generally spoken of as a candidate. The man expressed a wish to 
see L. I took him to see Lincoln. The man said to Lincoln: "I told our 
boys to put your name for President or Vice-P resident on the banner, 
etc." Mr. Lincoln said: "Well, my friend, I am much obliged to you. I 
guess either position is big and high enough for me/' (Brown says) I 
never heard Lincoln say anything about his religious views or religion 
in any aspect. 

J. H. Matheny says : 

He was present, he thinks, in the market house in 1840 and heard a 
debate between Douglas and Lincoln the subject: Martin Van 
Buren. Lincoln had asserted that Van had voted for Negro suffrage 


under certain limitations. Douglas denied it. Lincoln then read from 
Holland's Life of Van Buren. Douglas said it was a forgery. Lincoln 
drew Fithian's letter from Van Buren on Douglas. Douglas got mad, 

snatched up the book and slung it into the crowd, saying: "D n 

such a book." (Lincoln told me this story too. HEBNDON.) 

Further, Lincoln told me that Douglas was always calling the Whigs 
Federalists,, Tories, Aristocrats, etc. That the Whigs were opposed to 
freedom, justice, and progress. Lincoln told me that he said: "Douglas 
says the Whigs are opposed to liberty, justice, and progress. This is a 
loose assertion, I suppose, to catch votes. I don't like to catch votes by 
cheating men out of their judgments, but in reference to the Whigs be- 
ing opposed to liberty, etc., let me say that that remains to be seen and 
demonstrated in the future. The brave don't boast. A barking dog don't 


Peter Van Bergen says : 

That James Smith, the preacher who once lived here, is now in 
Dundee, Scotland. Smith was in 1850 preacher of the First Presby- 
terian Church here. Smith once said to Lincoln : "Lincoln, you are a 
rising man. You will be President yet." "If I am ever President I'll 
banish you to Scotland," replied Lincoln good-naturedly. After L. 
was elected, he received a letter from Smith. Lincoln did appoint him 
consul at Liverpool. 

Speed told Van Bergen that once he [Lincoln] called his Cabinet 
together and requested their individual opinion as to the necessity and 
policy of hanging the rebels. Each gave his opinion. Speed tarried 
after the meeting had adjourned. Lincoln said: "Speed, you are quite 
a hun man." "Yes," said Speed. "I feel this way," said Lincoln. 
"Once a man and his small son caught several coons, killed all but 
one, and the old man tied it with a string." Lincoln came along and 
the boy told him the story. [Lincoln] said: "Let him go." The boy 
said : "I wish I could, he could get away, but if I let him go, dad will 
whip me." "I feel as to hanging, etc., like the boy about the coon. If 
I let them go, I'll get whipped," said Lincoln. 

Van B. says Lincoln showed him, Van B., the war maps of Vicks- 
burg, explained, etc., etc., and finally said: "Grant here displayed 


about Vicksburg more generalship than ever was shown by any general 
in America." 


I knew Lincoln as early as 1834; he used to come from New Salem 
afoot and get books at Stuart & Dummer's office; he was Post Master or 
Deputy P.M. at that time; he used to come to Stuart & Dummer's office 
and tell his stories ; he once helped fix a fellow up at a hogshead and roll 
him down; Jack Armstrong was the leader. I ran a foot race in 1836 
with H. B. Truett now of California got Lincoln to be my judge. 
Truett had a running suit, Indian style. Lincoln felt good and I beat 
Truett, a boaster. Lincoln loved to let the wind out of the windy fool. 
Col. E. D. Baker and I and he ran foot races. I know when Lincoln 
came to this city in 1837 probably in May 1836. We played the old- 
fashioned twin ball, jumped, ran, fought, and danced. Lincoln played 
twin ball, he hopped well; in three hops he would go 41 feet on a dead 
level. He was a great wrestler, wrestled in the Black Hawk War; his 
mode, method, or way, his specialty, was side-holds; he threw down all 
men. Lincoln was a good player, could catch a ball; he would strip and 
go at it, do it well. 

I heard Lincoln make a speech in Mechanicsburg, Sangamon County, 
in 1836. John Bell had a fight at the time. The roughs got on him and 
Lincoln jumped in and saw fair play. We stayed for dinner at Green's 
dose to Mr. [undeciphered], drank whisky sweetened with honey. 

The questions discussed were internal improvements, Whig princi- 
ples. . . . 

I heard Mr. Lincoln during the same canvass. Early was a candidate. 
Lincoln skinned Leick Quint on in the court in 1836. I think it was at the 
court house, where the State House now stands. The Whigs and Demo- 
crats had a general quarrel, then and there. N. W. Edwards drew a pistol 
on Achilles Morris, during the Congressional race between John T. Stuart 
and S. A. Douglas ; they had a fight in Herndon's grocery, the bricklayer; 
they fought in a grocery; they both fought till exhausted, grocery floor 
slippery with slop. Stuart ordered out a barrel of whisky and wine. I 
became acquainted with Douglas in 1836 when he first came here as 
Eegister of the Land Office. Douglas and I wrestled many and many a 
time. When Harrison, White & Co. ran their race, I was a Harrison man, 
Lincoln was a Clay man. Heard Douglas and Lincoln speak on the ques- 


tions of the day many times. He and Lincoln and Calhoun in their great 
tariff debate in the court house, a rented room in Hoffman's Row, north- 
west corner of public square. This debate lasted three or four nights or 
more. Lincoln's arguments were profound, Calhoun was an able man, no 
mistake. One of the ablest men that ever made stump speeches in Illinois. 
He came nearer of whipping Lincoln in debate than Douglas did. These 
men Douglas, Calhoun, and Lincoln I have often heard from 1834 to 

Lincoln was a great temperance man during the time of the Washing- 
tonians. He would go afoot five or ten miles to talk. One of his speeches 
was printed in the Journal. He was a good temperance man, he scarcely 
ever drank. I got Lincoln to join the Sons of Temperance about 1854. He 
joined and never appeared in it again. If Lincoln ever drank, it was as a 
medicine, I think. He took no part in the first temperance moves in 18 , 
when an act of the Legislature was passed and submitted to the people. 

In 1840 he spoke frequently to Harrison Club; he advocated the tariff, 
bank, internal improvements by the general government, and the distri- 
bution of the proceeds of the sale of the public land, and particularly 
and generally all Whig measures. Lincoln was for Clay up to the time 
of General Taylor's race in 1848. He was for Clay on the Harrison, 
Van Buren, White, Webster & Co. He and I once went to Petersburg, he 
to make a speech against Peter Cartwright in his Congressional race, 
1846. He skinned Peter and Erastus Wright, the abolition[ist]. (Note 
this, remember the Wright law suit. [Herndon]). 

One day Lincoln was gone to Chicago to attend to the Bock Island 
Bridges case. While he was gone, say in 1857, Mrs. Lincoln and myself 
formed a conspiracy to take off the roof and raise the house. Lincoln 
came home, saw his house, and said: "Stranger, do you know where Lin- 
coln lives? He used to live here." He scolded his wife for running him 
in debt. Again, when Lincoln was gone once I chose her, Mrs. L., a car- 
riage, a fine one. Lincoln complained, but all to no purpose. Again when 
Lincoln was away from home, Mrs. Lincoln had a bad girl living with 
her; the boys and men used to come to her house in L.'s absence and 
scare her; she was crying and wailing one night, called me, and said: 
"Mr, Greeley, come, do come and stay with me all night, you can sleep in 
the bed with Bob and I. I don't want boys, they go to sleep too soon and 
won't and can't watch. Come, do, sleep with Eobert and myself/' 

I lived next-door neighbor to Lincoln nineteen years; knew him and 
his family relations well; he used to come to our house with slippers on, 
one suspender and old pair of pants, came for milk; our room was low 


and he said: "Jim, you have to lift your loft a little higher, I can't stand 
in it well/' He used to say to my wife that little people had some ad- 
vantages ; it did not take quite so much wood and wool to make their house 
and clothes. 

Lincoln never planted any trees; he did plant some rose bushes once 
in front of his house ; he planted no apple trees, cherry trees, pear trees, 
grapevines, shade trees, and suchlike things ; he did not, it seems, care for 
such things. 

He once, for a year or so, had a garden and worked in it; he kept his 
own horse, fed and curried it, fed and milked his own cow; he sawed his 
own wood generally when at home. He loved his horse well. 

Lincoln and his wife got along literally well, unless Mrs. L. got the 
devil in her ; Lincoln paid no attention, would pick up one of his children 
and walk off, would laugh at her, pay no earthly attention to her when in 
that wild furious condition. I don't think that Mrs. Lincoln was as bad 
a woman as she is represented; she was a good friend of mine. She al- 
ways said that if her husband had stayed at home as he ought to that she 
could love him better; she is no prostitute, a good woman. She dared me 
once or twice to kiss her, as I thought, refused, wouldn't now. 

Lincoln woulcl take his children and would walk out on the railway out 
in the country, would talk to them, explain things carefully, particularly. 
He was kind, tender, and affectionate to his children, very, very, Lincoln, 
I think, had no dog, had cats. Bob used to harness cats. Bob and my boy 
used to harness up my dog and they would take him and go out into the 
woods and get roots. 

Mrs. and Mr. Lincoln were good neighbors. Lincoln was the best man 
I ever knew; he gave my boy a position in the navy. Lincoln was a great 
reader, he read the Bible. 

As to Mr. Lincoln I do not think he ever had a change of heart, be- 
longed to no religious sects, was religious in his way, not as others gen- 
erally. Had he ever had a change of heart, religiously speaking, he would 
have told me about it; he could not have neglected; he couldn't have 
avoided it. 

In 1844 I used to play ball with Abe Lincoln, E. D. Baker, etc., others. 
The game was called fives, striking a ball with our hands against a wall 
that served as alley. In 1860 Lincoln and myself played ball, the game. 

Lincoln went home from the Journal office directly after his nomination 
for President. He was agitated, turned pale, trembled. We, a good many, 
soon went up to see him at his house. Lincoln played ball the day before 
his nomination, probably he played some in the morning early. 



Lincoln used to come to our office in Springfield and borrow books; 
don't know whether he walked or rode; he was an uncouth-looking lad; 
did not say much; what he did say he said it abrupt! y, sharply. 

In 1859 I was in the Supreme Court room in the State House. Lincoln 
was or had been telling his yarns. A man, a kind of lickspittle, a fawner, 
said: "Lincoln, why do you not write out your stories and put them in 
a book?" Lincoln drew himself up, fixed his face, as if a thousand dead 
carcasses and a million of privies were shooting all their stench into his 
nostrils, and said: "Such a book would stink like a thousand privies." 
Lincoln had two characteristics : one of purity, and the other, as it were, 
an insane love in telling dirty and smutty stories. A good story of that 
kind has a point with a sting to it. 

I will give you remembrances of Mr. L. in broken doses. 


I got on the cars with Lincoln at Springfield and went the trip through ; 
never heard, don't think, that there is any truth in the Indiana or Ohio 
story about throwing train off the track or in killing Lincoln. Got Pinker- 
ton's letter at Cincinnati, sent special messenger with letter there to me. 
One of Mr. Pinkerton's female detectives met me at N.G., spy, laid all 
the facts before me; I then arranged that on my arrival at Philadelphia 
I get a room and arrange to meet Pinkerton, went to the Continental, 

quit it, went down to Hotel. Met Pinkerton and Felton, President of 

Baltimore & Wilmington R.R. There the evidence was laid before me. 
Pinkerton laid all the evidence before me, was discussed. Pinkerton was 
exceedingly anxious that Lincoln should go on to Washington that night 
(eleven o'clock) train. Felton and I agreed to it. The conclusion was that 
Pinkerton should go to the Continental, see Lincoln, and lay the whole 
facts before him, which was done; went to my room; Lincoln was sur- 
rounded by the usual crowd. Lincoln was taken to a room. Probably 
Nicolay was there. Lincoln liked Pinkerton, had the utmost confidence in 
him as a gentleman and a man of sagacity. All the facts in debate were 
there given to Mr. Lincoln in detail. "Go you must, the world will laugh 
at you, I know, prepare to meet the charge of cowardice and [be] laughed 
at even by friends, and you must prepare yourself to be laughed at. So will 
your friends, I am convinced that there is danger, President Felton says 
there is danger, Pinkerton too says there is danger, there is danger, but 



you must prepare to be laughed at by friends and foe." Lincoln said: "I 
can't go tonight/' I impressed this idea on Mr. Lincoln, and you must en- 
large on it. The evidence was such as to convince all honest minds, yet 
the evidence could not be laid before the public because it would endanger 
the very agents of the government, Pinkerton' s men, and all who were at 
that moment playing their wise game among the Secessionists, in the 
military companies one was hung. I told Mr. Lincoln all and tried to 
impress the danger on him, told him that friend and foe would laugh at 
him,, yet he must stand it, bear the sneers and scoffs and scorn of men, 
friend and foe alike. Evidence couldn't be got before the world. Mr. 
Lincoln said : "I have engaged to raise the flag on tomorrow morning over 
Independence Hall. I have engaged to go to Harrisburg. Beyond these 
I have no engagements ; after these engagements are fulfilled, you are at 
liberty to take such course as you please." I then said to Mr. Lincoln: 
"We don't [want] to take any course that will endanger you or bring you 
into ridicule, because you are to bear the burden of the thing." Lincoln 
then said: "Well, I've known Pinkerton for years and have known and 
tested his truthfulness and sagacity and my judgment coincides with 
yours." I then said to Lincoln: "We will then complete the arrangements 
and I will tell you in detail on tomorrow in the cars between Philadel- 
phia and Harrisburg." Mr. Nicolay knew of the interview, so did Lamon; 
neither knew of what was doing or said, or being said, yet they knew of 
the interview. Mr. Lincoln then returned to the parlors in the Continental, 
and Mr. Felton, Mr. Scott of Pennsylvania Central, and Mr. Sanford, 
general telegraph agent of the United States, were sent for and came to 
the room the one [where] we had the interview with Mr. Lincoln, and 
there we made the arrangements, engaged all, nearly all, night in ar- 
ranging and completing the program of next day. It was arranged that 
special car should leave Harrisburg at 6 p.m. and reach Philadelphia 
on the eleven o'clock train, in season for the train for Baltimore and 
Washington. (But one person of the party should accompany Mr. Lin- 
coln; that was talked over at the time.) That every train on the Pennsyl- 
vania Central should be off the track from six till that Lincoln car had 
passed Harrisburg to Philadelphia come back, had passed, and going 
on reached Philadelphia. That Pinkerton should meet Mr. Lincoln with a 
carriage at or on the outside of the city, and carry him, L., to the depot 
of Baltimore & Wilmington R.R., so as not to go through the heart of the 
city. Pinkerton did so, did his part well, artistically so, keenly, shrewdly, 
and well. Pinkerton was and is a good friend to Lincoln. It was agreed 
that Felton should detain the eleven o'clock Baltimore train . . . until 
Mr, L.'s arrival. That Mr. Sanford should see to it, the telegraph, and 


take the proper measures for the execution of the plan, that no telegraphic 
message went over any of the wires until all this that evening was ac- 
complished; his knowledge and skill being equal to that task, i.e., San- 
ford's. Raised, L. did, the flag, according to program, left for Harrisburg. 
In the morning just before the train was ready to start for Harrisburg, 
Mr. Lincoln sent for me to come to his room, and there I saw and met 
Fred Seward. Mr. Lincoln said: "Mr. Seward has been sent by his father 
to inform me of the same conspiracy, that you and Pinkerton explained 
to me last night" (Saw him Fred Seward at Philadelphia) "and ad- 
vises that I proceed immediately to Washington; you can explain to him 
so far as you think fit what has been done." I said to Mr. Seward that ar- 
rangements had been made to pass Mr. Lincoln safely in Washington, 
and you may so assure your father; that the mode, the manner in detail, 
it is not necessary to detail. We left for Harrisburg, and on the way I 
gave to Mr. Lincoln a full and precise detail of all the arrangements that 
had been made. I said to him that the step to him was so important that 
I felt that it should be communicated to the other gentlemen of the party. 
Lincoln said: "You can do as you like about that." As soon as the cere- 
monies are over at Harrisburg I will fix an interview between him and 
Colonel Sumner, Major Hunter, Judge Davis, Captain John Pope, and 
Lamon, they being part of the President's party. I changed my seat. 
Nicolay said to me: "Judd, there is something up; what is it, if it is 
proper that I should know?" I said: "George, there is no necessity for 
your knowing and one man can keep a matter better than two." Arrived 
at Harrisburg ceremonies, got into the parlor, explained to Sumner and 
the party the facts as well as I could, and the plan and program that 
should carry Lincoln to Washington. Mr. Sumner spoke the first word. 

"That proceeding," said Sumner, "will be a d d piece of cowardice." 

I replied to this pointed hit by saying: "That view of the case had al- 
ready been presented to Mr. Lincoln." A discussion of the matter, Pope 
favoring our arrangement; Sumner said: "111 get a squad of cavalry, 
sir, to cut our way to Washington, sir." I said: "Probably before that day 
comes, the inauguration day will have passed; it is important that Mr. 
Lincoln should be in Washington that day." After considerable discussion 
Judge Davis, who had expressed no opinion, but had put various questions 
to test the truthfulness of the story, turned to Mr. Lincoln and said: 
"You personally heard Mr. Pinkerton's story, you heard this discussion. 
What is your judgment in the matter?" Mr. Lincoln said: "I have lis- 
tened to this discussion with interest. I see no reason, no good reason, to 
change the program, and I am for carrying it out as arranged by Judd." 
This silenced all discussions and now the question was: Who should go 


with him (all this was at Harrisburg) to Washington? I stated that it 
had been deemed by those who had talked it over that but one man should 
accompany Mr. Lincoln, and Mr. Lamon's name had been mentioned as 
that person. Sumner demurred, saying: "I have undertaken to see Mr. 
Lincoln to Washington." Mr. Lincoln then went to his dinner. Lincoln 

heard all this conversation. A carriage to the door of the Hotel to 

take Mr. Lincoln back to the cars and thence to Philadelphia. Lincoln 
was at the dinner table when the carriage had arrived to take him to the 
track and thence to Philadelphia. Lincoln was called and went to his 
room, and changed his coat, came downstairs into the hall with his party. 
I said to Lamon: "Hurry with him." He and Mr. Lincoln quickly passed 
out of doors, followed by the others of the party. I put my hand on 
Colonel Sumner 's shoulder, who was going to get into the carriage, and 
said: "One moment, Colonel." He turned to me, and while he turned to 
me, the carriage drove off, and a madder man you never saw. At 2 a.m. 
I received a dispatch from Mr. Scott stating that Mr. Lincoln passed 
through Philadelphia. Lincoln was in a dress coat, dinner coat, changed 
his coat, his shawl, a felt hat, etc., that he carried with him, called by 
the world Scottish plaid. 


About one week after the first Bull Run I made a call upon Mr. Lincoln, 
having no business except to give him some presents which the nuns at the 
"Osage" Mission School had sent to him. A Cabinet meeting had just ad- 
journed; Stackpole told me to go right to his room. Lincoln was writing 
on a card; an old gentleman was with him; when he had concluded, he 
read the writing aloud, it was something like this: "Secretary Chase: 

The bearer, Mr. wants to be appointed of Baltimore. If you 

find his recommendations to be suitable, and I believe them to have been 
very good, the fact that he is a Methodist and is urged by them ought 
not to make against him as they complain of us some." Said I: "The 
rebels do that." "Yes," said he, "but not in that way, Whitney." The old 
gentleman retired with the card, and Secretary Seward came in. Says 
Lincoln (rather sportively) before he got seated: "Well, Governor, what 
now?" Seward stated his case, which related to New Mexico. Says Lin- 
coln: "Oh! I see, they have not got either a Governor nor government; 
well, you see, Jim Lane, the Secretary, is his man and he must hunt him 
up." Seward then left, under the impression, as I thought, that Lincoln 
wanted to get rid of him and diplomacy. Several other parties were an- 
nounced. Lincoln stated that he was busy and could not see them ; he was 


as playful and sportive as a child, told me all sorts of anecdotes,, dealt 
largely in anecdotes of Charles James Fox, asked all about several odd 
characters that we both knew in Illinois. General James was announced. 
"Well,, as he is a feller what makes cannings (cannon)" James sent 
word that he must leave town that p.m. and positively must see Lincoln 
before he went "I must see him. Tell him when I get through with 
Whitney, 111 see him." 

No more announcements were made,, and James left about five o'clock, 
declaring that Lincoln was a fool and had got closeted with a damned 
old Hoosier from Illinois,, and was telling dirty stories while the country 
was going to hell. Lincoln got his maps of the seat of war and gave me a 
full history of the preliminary talk and steps about the Battle of Bull 
Run. He, L., was opposed to the battle and explained to General Scott by 
those very maps how the enemy could by the aid of the railroads reinforce 
their armies at Manassas Gap until they had brought every man there, 
keeping us at bay meanwhile. L. showed to him our paucity of railroad 
advantages at that point and their plenitude; but Scott was obstinate 
and would not hear of the possibility of defeat, and now "you see I was 
right, and Scott now knows it, I reckon. My plan was, and still is, to 
make a strong feint against Richmond and distract their forces before 
attacking Manassas." Said I: "Are you going to do it yet?" Says he: 
"That is the problem that General McClellan is now trying to work out," 
He then told me of the plan he had recommended to McC. to send gun- 
boats up one of the rivers (not the James) in the direction of Richmond 
and divert them there while the main attack was made at Manassas. Said 
I: "I expect McClellan will be your successor/* Said he: "I am perfectly 
willing if he will only put an end to this war." He then gave me his theory 
of the rebellion by aid of the map : "We must drive them away from here 
(Manassas Gap) and clean them out of this part of the State so as they 
can't threaten us here and get into Maryland; then we must keep up as 
good a blockade as we can of their ports; then we must march an army 
into East Tennessee and liberate the Union sentiment there, and then let 
the thing work; we must then rely upon the people getting tired and say- 
ing to their leaders: 'We have had enough of this thing.' Of course we 
can't conquer them if they are determined to hold out against us." In 
reply to a question about the blockade, he said: "The coast is so long that 
I can't keep up a very good blockade"; then he said: "The great trouble 
about this whole thing is, that Union men at the South won't fight for 
their rights." He told me of his last interview with Douglas. "He came 
rushing in one day and said he had just got a telegraph dispatch from 
some friends in Illinois urging him to come out and help get things right 


in Egypt, and that he would go, or stay in Washington, just where I 
thought he could do the most good. I told him to do as he chooses, but that 
he could probably do best in Illinois ; upon that he just shook hands with 
me and hurried away to catch the next train/* I seized a good opportunity 
to say of Judge Davis : "I expect you'll appoint him Supreme Judge, any- 
way/* He at once grew sad and said nothing until I changed the subject. 
I never saw Lincoln in so jolly a mood; he ought to have been busy too, 
as Congress was about to adjourn. He said to me: "My business just now 
is to make generals/' At another time I wanted a line from him to the 
Paymaster General, asking a favor for me. I went to his house at break- 
fast time and found a crowd; hence I went into his room at once and 
found him just come in. I stated my business; he said: "Let us go right 
over and get it done/' I said: "I don't want you to go/' "But I can do 
it better by going/' he said; he never was more radiant. I took advantage 
of it to say: "Mr. Lincoln, William Houston, a brother of Sam Houston, 
is here wanting that little clerkship/* He frowned like a bear and said: 
"Don't bother me about Bill Houston; he has been here sitting on [his] 

a s all summer, waiting for me to give him the best office I've got." 

"But," said I, "if he will select a small clerkship." "I hain't got it!'* 
roared Lincoln, with more impatience and disgust than I ever saw mani- 
fested by him. Said I: "That ends it"; and he at once became cheerful 
and jolly and we started on. Lincoln and I were at Centralia Fair the 
day after the debate at Jonesboro ; night came on and we were tired, hav- 
ing been on the fair ground all day ; the train was due at midnight ; every- 
thing was full; I managed to get a chair for Lincoln in the Illinois Cen- 
tral R.R. office, but small politicians would intrude so that he could 
scarcely get a moment's sleep. The train came and was filled instantly. 
I got a seat at the door for L. and myself; he was worn out and had to 
meet Douglas next day at Charleston; an empty car, called "saloon" car, 
was hitched onto the rear of the train and locked up. I asked the con- 
ductor, who knew Lincoln and myself well (we were both attorneys of the 
road), if Lincoln could not ride in that car, as he was exhausted, etc., and 
the conductor refused. I afterwards got in by stratagem. At this time 
McClellan was in person taking Douglas around in a special car and 
special train, and that was the indignant treatment that Lincoln got from 
the Illinois Central R.R.; every interest of that road and every employee 
was against Lincoln and for Douglas. During the sitting of the first 
Philadelphia Convention in '56, Lincoln was attending a special term of 
court in our county. [This is not true. H.] Davis, L., and myself roomed 
together. At noon I would get the Chicago paper ; one day the telegraph 
showed that Dayton was nominated Vice-P resident, that "Lincoln" re- 


ceived [ ?] votes ; Davis and I thought it was our Lincoln, but Lincoln 
said he thought it was the other great man of the same name from Massa- 
chusetts. Davis and I were impatient for next day's news, and it showed 
that it was our Lincoln; but the main subject of the news was not ap- 
parently at all moved by the prominence given him. The next day after 
that, when I came to our room with the mail, I looked guiltily foolish, and 
also amused; it transpired that in coming through the parlor where the 
gong was, to get to our room, L. had hid it in the central table, and the 
landlord was looking all around for it, and was then at the stable hunting 
it. L. and I went to the parlor together and, while I held the door shut, 
he replaced it, and then went up the stairs to the room three steps at 
a time. He once told me of you x that "he had taken you in as a partner, 
supposing that you had system and would keep things in order,, but that 
you would not make much of a lawyer, but that he found that you had 
no more system than he had, but that [you] were a fine lawyer, so that 
he was doubly disappointed." As late as '57, he once said to me, while we 
were going together to a speech-making: "I wish it was over." Upon my 
expressing my surprise, he said: "When I have to make a speech, I al- 
ways want it over." 


Tuesday, September 6, 1887. 

(Let all this be private as to names.) 

I saw Governor Palmer at his office privately and talked to him freely 
about Mr. Lincoln, his mother, and Thomas Lincoln, and their ancestry, 
and origin. This was at 9 a.m. I asked him his advice, asked him to give 
me his opinion as how best to proceed, in writing the Life of Lincoln; 
whether to state all the facts or to state none or only so much as history 
and the reading world demanded. I carefully and cautiously related the 
facts,, told him all I knew as well for Thomas, Nancy, and Abraham as 
against them. Governor Palmer thought one moment and said: "This is 
too delicate a question and I do not wish to give any advice on the matter, 
will think more about it and then, if I think proper, I will tell you my 
opinion, will see you again, however, nothing happening, etc." I left the 
office. Zimri A. Enos came into the room about the time the Governor's 
and my conversation ended. Don't think he heard a word. 

I saw A. Orendorff, stated substantially what I said to Governor 

i Herndon. 



Palmer, and in reply he said: "the People wished and greatly wished to 
have the story of Lincoln's legitimacy well settled and forever fixed" ; he 
thought that on the whole and for the best, to tell the whole story and 
clean up Lincoln's legitimacy. This was about 9-10 a.m. at or near the 
bank just below OrendorfFs office. 

I saw at Senator Cullom's office Senator Cullom and Doctor William 
Jayne, had a private conversation with both of these men, told them the 
whole story as I had it on my finger's end, and the same as I told to 
Governor Palmer and Orendorff, and to all other persons, told them the 
story of Lincoln's supposed illegitimacy, went over all the facts, stating 
to show that I wished to make it appear that Lincoln was the legitimate 
child of Thomas and Nancy, that that was my intention. Cullom seemed 
surprised and said: "The public believes that you want to make him, 
Lincoln, illegitimate." I said: "In this you are mistaken. I want, first, to 
tell the truth and, secondly, I want by that truth to make Lincoln appear, 
nay, to be, the lawful child and legitimate heir of Thomas Lincoln and 
Nancy Lincoln, once Nancy Hanks." Cullom thanked me for this declara- 
tion of intentions on my part. I further said to him that in so doing I 
should have to touch up old Thomas Lincoln, and immediately after this 
running conversation I asked these gentlemen for their opinion and ad- 
vice, etc., as to the best way in which to write the Life of Lincoln. These 
gentlemen said that "If you say anything about the matter, you had better 
tell it out, giving all the facts so as to put Lincoln in his proper place or 
attitude in history. Glad that you expressed your opinion of intentions 
about Lincoln's legitimacy, it being favorable to him." This conversation 
was the longest which I had with any person or persons, knowing that 
Cullom misunderstood my purposes, etc. I got up the meeting on purpose 
to hear Cullom's and Jayne's opinion. This w